Skip to main content

Full text of "The discovery of America by the Northmen"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 

H..S a i 3T-7 

















fn t^t Cmt]^ €mUxtii, 









Der ar flagga p& mast och den yisar &t Norr V* — Teoner. 



















Amongst the various, valuable, and important publica- 
tions of the Royal Danish Society of Northern Antiquaries, 
that which has created the greatest general interest in the 
literary world is the able and elaborate work of Professor 
Rain, which came out at Copenhagen in the year 183^7, 
under the title of Amtiquitates Americans, sive 
Scriptores Septentrionales rerum AntUColumbianarum in 

This interesting publication, the fruit of great literary 
labour, and extensive research, clearly shews that the 
eastern coast of North America was discovered and colo- 
nized by the Northmen more than jive-hundred years before 
the reputed discovery of Columbus. 

These facts rest upon the authority of antient Icelandic 
manuscripts preserved in the Royal and University Li- 
braries of Copenhagen, and which have now been^ for the 
first time, translated and made public. Fac-similes of the 
most important of these documents are given in Professor 
Rafh's work, together with maps and delineations of antient 
monuments illustrative of the subject ; a Danish and Latin 
translation follows the Icelandic text, and the whole is ac- 
companied by introductory observations, philological and 
historical remarks, as well as archaeological and geographical 
disquisitions of high interest and value. 

The design of the writer of the following pages is to put 
before the public in a cheap and compendious form, those 
parts of Professor Rafn's work, which he considered were 
likely to prove most interesting to British readers, the 
greater part of whom, from the expense and language of 
the original publication, must necessarily be debarred from 


its perusal. The translations of the Sagas and other Ice- 
landic manuscripts, which embrace the whole detail of the dis- 
coveries and settlements in America, are made substantially 
from the Danish version, of the correctness of which, coming 
from the pen of the learned Editor, there could be no doubt ; 
but in some cases, where the style of this version appeared to 
the translator to depart too much from the quaint and simple 
phraseology of the original, the Icelandic text has been 
specially referred to, and an effort has been made through- 
out, to give to the English narrative, the homely and un- 
pretending character of the Icelandic Saga. In all cases 
where it was thought possible that doubts might arise, or 
where it was considered necessary to impress some par- 
ticular fact or statement upon the mind of the reader, the 
original Icelandic word or expression is given; and free 
use has been made of the copious and lucid notes and com- 
mentaries of the learned Editor, to explain or illustrate 
the various etymological, historical, and geographical points 
which call for observation : as an appropriate introduction 
to the whole, is prefixed a sketch of the rise, eminence, and 
extinction of Icelandic historical literature, founded upon 
the able Danish Essay of Dr. Erasmus Miiller, Bishop of 

The eminent historian Dr. Robertson appears to have 
been totally unacquainted with the early voyages of the 
Northmen to the western hemisphere, and hence it is pre- 
sumed, that the present summary of their discoveries may 
be received as an acceptable introduction to his celebrated 
History of America. 

The incidental allusions to the voyages and settlements of 
the Irish, which are contained in the Minor Narratives, 
are more likely to excite than satisfy enquiry ; much still 
remains to be unravelled on this interesting subject, and 
it is to be regretted that no competent hands have yet been 
applied to this neglected portion of Irish history. It has 


been too much the practice to decry as fabulous, all state- 
ments claiming for the earlier inhabitants of Ireland, a 
comparatively high degree of advancement and civilization, 
and notwithstanding the many valuable publications con- 
nected with the history and antiquities of that country, which 
have from time to time, come forth, and the more recent 
candid, learned, and eloquent production of Mr. Moore,* 
there are not wanting, (even among her sons) those who, 
with the anti-Irish feeling of the bigotted Cambrensis, 
would sink Ireland in the scale of national distinction, and 
deny her claims to that early eminence in religion, learning, 
and the arts« which unquestionable records so fully testify. 

And yet a very little unprejudiced enquiry would be 
sufficient to satisfy the candid mind^ that Erin had good 
claims to be called the ** School of the West,*' and her 
sons : — 

*' Inclyta gens hominum, Milite, Pace, Fide."t 

Thus much, at least, will the following pages clearly shew : 
that sixty-five years previous to the discovery of Iceland by 
the Northmen in the ninth century, Irish emigrants had 
visited and inhabited that island; — that about the year 
725, Irish ecclesiastics had sought seclusion upon the Faroe 
islands ; — that in the tenth century, voyages between Ice- 
land and Ireland were of ordinary occurrence ; and that 
in the eleventh century, a country west from Ireland, and 
south of that part of the American continent, which was 
discovered by the adventurous Northmen in the preceding 
agCj was known to them under the name of White Man's 
Land or Great Ireland. 

Cork, ApHl, 1841. 

* History mt Ireland, by Thomas Moore, '' a work in which,** says Hallam, 
** the claims of his country are stated favourably, and with much learning 
and Industry, but not with extravagant partiality." See Ititroduc. to Liter, 
of Europe in the Middle Ages, by Henry Hallam, F.R.A.S. Vol. I. p. 7, note. 

f Donatus, Bishop of Fiesoli. See p. 232. 





Eminent position of Icelandic literature — Iceland the seat of religion 
and learning in the dark ages of Europe — Recollection of events 
preserved by the Skalds and Sagpamen — Investigation of the causes 
of this mental advancement— Emigration from Norway to Iceland 
in the ninth century— Manner of fixing the locality of the settlers— 
Setstohkar — Arbitrary appropriation of land — A Republic is formed 
— Held together by moral laws — Origin of the situation of Chief — 
Norwegian customs followed by the settlers — Herredsthing — Althing 
—Income of the chief — Hofgode — Powerful individuals rival the 
chief — General tranquillity — Holmgang — Few Icelanders engage in 
sea roving — Peaceful pursuits lead to recollections and stories of 
the past — Sagas— Songs of the Skalds— They pass orally through 
many generations — The memory aided by Runes — Anecdotes of 
Egil Skalagrimssoii— Of Olaf the Saint — The two Eddas— The 
soldiers' whetstone — Historical knowledge of the Skalds — Landnd- 
mabok—Thc Skalds resemble the Troubadours — Of goodly lineage 
and the confidants of Kings — Their historical songs considered true 
— The Heimskringla — Drapas and single strophes — Enigmatical and 
antithetical style — Cause of these records being preserved in Iceland 
— Heroic age terminates earlier in Denmark and Sweden than in 
Norway and Iceland . . .1 


Cause of the Icelanders becoming historians — Feuds and lawless pro- 
ceedings — ^The time of feud a time of re-union — Skalds thus stimu- 
lated to composition — Satirical songs — They become the subject 
of legal enactment by the King of Denmark — Climate, and mode 
of living favourable to the taste for poetry — Domestic meetings — 
Public amuBements — The Althing — Hestetbing — Illustration from 



Tegner's Frithlof — Anecdote of Bolle BoUesoD^ Accuracy of per- 
sonal description in the Sagas— Copiousness of Icelandic language 
in expressing shades of charftct^r— Helge Hardbeinsen identifies some 
chiefs whom he had nerer seen-^Simplicity of the Saga — Delight of 
the people in hearing them — Oral tradition ends with the &buIoQS 
— Intercourse with Norway and Irdand — - Arrival of a mer- 
chant described — Piratical expeditions are replaced by tituling voy- 
ages—Large building timber imported for the construction of the 
Drinking Hall --*- Illustration from Frithiof -^ Adventurous youtii 
sometimes engage in sea-roving— Northern maxim relative to home 
— The Icelandic Skalds obtain reputation abroad — Exceed all their 
competitors of the North-* Extraordinary instance of memory*- 
Anecdote of the Sagaman Thorsteln — Brief account of the eminent 
Archaeologist A mas Magnussen^-Feast of Tule — Northern origin of 
Picts^ — Icelanders despise trading voyages in the II th century — 
They visit Rome — But always return to Iceland — Saying of King 
Hakon on this peculiarity — Curiosity of Icelanders on the arrival of 
a ship— First duty of a stranger — Anecdote of Bishop Magnus . xv 


How traditions become committed to writing — Snorri Sturleson — Ari 
Frode — Seemund Frode— Histx^rical writing the fruit of Christianity 
— Period of this important event — Not propagated, as in Norway, 
by force — First Bishop consecrated in 1066 — Oligarchy checks the 
growth of hierarchy — Bells^ books, and breviaries — First school 
established — Previous state of society caused a greater taste for lite- 
rature in Iceland than in the rest of the North — People apply them- 
selves to literature* --Chiefs so learned that they often become priests 
— Literature at first limited to religious subjects — Latin acquired, 
and thus knowledge extended — Icelanders begin to compile annals 
— Chronological difficulties — Genealogies the only guide — Ari Frode 
the first historian — ^his Islandingabok — Construction of a Saga — 
The jgreater number anonymous — Seemund Frode — ^The Landndma- 
bok — Lives of the Olafs— Records of the achievements of Harald 
Haarfager— Royal Sagas — No claim to authorship set up by the 
Saga writers— Mythic Sagas — Erik Oddson the first compiler of a 
book — Carl Johnson— Styrmer — Comparative literary eminence of 
Iceland in the 12th century — Advancement in the next century — 
Snorri Sturleson — His manner of writing history — Sturle Thordson 
— ^Jarls Saga — Orkneyinga Saga — Decline of learning in the 16th 
century — Industry of copyists— The Kristni Saga— The Flato- 
bogen . . . xxvili 



Change in the social condition of Iceland — ^Its effects on historical 
literature — Rise of an oligarchy — Field of narrative reduced — All 
power divided amongst the sons of Sturle — ^Their feuds — ^The Sturlun- 
gatiden — Honourable feeling replaced by treachery, and the power 
of numbers — No distinguished individual appears — Character of the 
Stnrlungers — ^Hakon Hakonson avails himself of the intestine discord, 
and secures the allegiance of the inhabitants — ^The fate of Iceland 
compared to that of Ireland — No theme left for the muse or historian 
— Sagas cease to be written — Romances introduced by Hakon — ^Their 
injurious tendency — ^The island sinks into insignificance — Observa- 
tion of Torfseus upon Hakon's policy — Icelandic voyages cease in 
the 15th century — ^The old language, corrupted in Scandinavia, is 
preserved pure in Iceland — Icelandic genealogists — ^The Reformation 
operates against Saga writing — ^The attention of Danish and Swedish 
literati drawn to Icelandic literature — Arngrim Johnson and Bishop 
Brynjulf Svensson collect MSS. for the kings of Denmark, and Rug- 
man for the King of Sweden — Prohibition by Christian V. of Den- 
mark in 1685 — Remaining. MSS. collected by Amas Magnussen in 
1702-1712, and lodged in the libraries of Copenhagen . zxzvU 


Description of the MSS. — ^The object of the writer — Discovery and 
colonization of Greenland in 982— 985— Erik the Red removes from 
Norway to Iceland in consequence of murder — ^Period of first settle- 
ment by Ingolf, and previous visits of Gardar and Naddod — Both 
preceded by Irish monks — Erik's sons — He is outlawed, and resolves 
to seek the land seen by Gunnbjorn in a former voyage — Discovers 
Greenland — Origin of the name — Erik colonizes the newly-dis- 
covered country — Names of the first settlers and their residences — 
An incidental statement in the Saga fixes with accuracy, the period 
of the colonization . . .47 


Genealogy of Bjarni Heijulfson — His pursuits and reputation — Hymn 
of a Christian from the Hebrides— Family of Erik the Red— Bjarni 
finding his father had accompanied Erik to Greenland, resolves to 
follow him thither — He sails for several days without seeing land, 
— at last sees a country covered with wood — He leaves this and 
sailing for two days, discovers another land, which was flat — The 
sailors want to land^ but he continues at sea, and find^ a third 


land — This proves to be an Island, and uninviting— At length they 
reach Greenland, and Bjami repairs to his fa ther*s>- Observations 
on the preceding — Calculations founded on the knowledge of a day's 
sail, and the courses steered — Result shews the land discovered by 
Bjarni to be the coast of North America — Date determined by pre- 
ceding narrative — Comparison with the discovery of Columbus • 50 


Bjami Herjulfson visits Erik Jarl — ^Tells of his voyage to America — 
Is reproached for not examining the country— Leif Erikson resolves 
to explore the land, and buys Bjami's ship — ^Wishes his father Erik 
to lead the party — Erik consents, but is deterred by a full from his 
horse — Leif sets sail with thirty-five men— A German named Tyrker 
accompanies him — They find the land first which Bjarni had found 
last — Description of the country — ^They call it Helluland — This 
shewn to be Newfoundland— They put to sea and find another 
land — ^The features described — Leif g^ves it the name of Markland — 
Shewn to be Nova Scotia — Ag^in they put to sea and come to an 
island, — which appears to have been Nantucket — They cross the 
mouth of Buzzard's Bay, and sail up the Pocasset River to Mount 
Hope Bay — They resolve to remain here for the winter — Produc- 
tions of the country — Mildness of the climate — Length of the day — 
Determination of the latitude of the place — Explanation of the Ice- 
landic terms upon which this observation is founded — agree- 
ment of the description of modem travellers with the locality thus 
determined . . . .59 


The German is missing— A party selected to seek him — He is met in a 
state of great excitement from the discovery of vines — Incredulity of 
Leif — The settlers gather grapes and fell trees to load their ship — 
Leif names the country Vinland— Passage in Adam of Bremen 
corroborative of this discovery — ^The settlers sail for Greenland in 
the spring— Leif saves some people from a rock, and is hence called 
the Lucky — Erik the Red dies . . .66 


Thorvald takes his brother LeiPs ship to Greenland — They spend a 
pleasant winter — They explore the land and find no habitations — 
Thorvald goes to the eastward — ^The ship is driven on a ness and 
the keel broken — The place hence called Keelness — Thorvald finds 
part of the country very beautiful — Canoes seen on the beach— They 



find nine men and kill eight of them— Dwellings seen inside a frith 
— A drowsiness comes upon them — They are attacked by the 
Skrffilings, and Thorvald is killed— He is burled at Krossaness, sup- 
posed to be Point Aldb&ton— His followers return to Greenland 70 


Thorstein marries Gudrid the daughter of Thorbjorn— Sails to bring 
back the body of Thorvald — Driven about the whole summer, and 
returns to Greenland — Invited to the house of Thorstein the black — 
Character of Gudrid— Pestilential disease attacks the crew— Grim- 
hild dies— Thorstein Erikson is attacked— His last conversation with 
Gudrid— Hospitality and friendly offices of Thorstein the black— 
Gudrid repairs to Leif in Brattahlid— These superstitious incidents 
corroborative of the authenticity of the Saga«~Testimony of Sir 
Walter Scott . . .74 

Corroborative of the preceding narrative . . 79 


Corroborative of the same . . . .80 


The hero of this Saga a distinguished individual ~ His high descent — 
Description of the MSS. from which the narrative is taken-^The 
nature of its contents — ^Value of the discrepancies and misnomers — 
Their existence accounted for — ^Torfseus imagined this Saga to be 
lost — Genealogy of Karlscfne — He fits out a ship for Greenland in 
1006 — Bjami Grimolfson and Thorhall Gamlason fit out another — 
They pass the winter with Leif at Brattahlid — Leif becomes dejected 
towards Yule — Karlsefne informed of the cause, relieves him by sup- 
plies from his ship— Splendour of the festival — Karlsefne .obtains 
Gudrid in marriage .82 


IN VINLAND, A.D. 1007. 

Karlsefne and Snorri Thorbrandson make ready their ship for a voyage 
to Greenland — Bjami and Thorhall prepare also their vessel — Thor- 
hall the hunter accompanies them — His appearance and qualifications 
— The whole number of men amounts to 160 — They visit Helluland, 
Markland, and Keelness, and give the name of Furdustrands to the 
shores of Barnstable — Two Scotch people sent on shore — Their 



clothing described — They bring baek grapes and wild maise — 
StraumQord and Straumey, or Buzzard's Bay and Martha's 
VisTBTARD — Preparations for remaining tlie winter — The fishing 
declines and they are in want of .provisions — Thorhall found lying on 
a rock— Dagr and Dcsgr — A whale is found and prepared for food — 
Illness in consequence of partaking of it— Thorhall ascribes the ar- 
rival of the whale to^his verses in praise of the god 'Rior — ^They cast 
the remainder into the sea in consequence— 'The weather improves, 
and provisions are again obtained — Snorri Karlsefneson bom . 87 


Thorhall goes northward with nine men, and Karlsefne takes the rest 
roand the coast to the southward— Thorhall is driven by westerly gales 
to Ireland — Karlsefne sails up to Mount Hope Bat — He finds 
wild maize, and quantities of fish— The Helgir Plskur, or Holibut — 
Namber of wild beasts— They remain here a fortnight — Visit of the 
Skraelings— Their identity with the Esquimaux — Mildness of the 
winter— Second visit of the SkrsBlmgs — ^They begin to barter— Their 
passion for red cloth , and meal porridge — Frightened away by a bull 
— Hostile return of the Skrselings — An engagement takes place — 
Consternation produced amongst the settlers by a peculiar missile of 
their assailants — Rallied by Freydis — Her courage and reproaches 
— The Northmen retire to their dwellings — The Skrselings find an 
axe, and throw it away on finding that it will not cut stone — Karl- 
sefiae deems it expedient to abandon the country — ^They saU north- 
wards, sni^[X>9ed towards Chippinoxet point — Doubtful passage in 
the MS. — A Uniped*-" Another version of the death of Thorvald 
Erikson — Blue hills of Norfolk — The third winter is passed at 
Straumijord — Dissension caused by the women — They leave Vinland 
in spring— -Find five Skrselings in Markland — Take two of them and 
teach them their langnage^— Description of their dwellings and chiefs 
— White- Man's Land or Grbat Irblano — BJami Grimolfson is 
driven inta the Irish ocean — The vessel attacked by the teredonavaUs 
— Part of the crew saved in a boat-^Magnanimity of ^jarni Qiimolf- 
son . • . .101 

Descendants of Karlsefne and Gudrid . ' .105 


A. D. 1011. 

This narrative contained in the Saga of Erik the Red— Freydis the 
daughter of Erik, induces the brothers Helgi and Finnbogi to un- 
dertake a voyage to Vinland with her— Leif agrees to lend her his 



houses there — Thirty men agreed on for each ship — Freydis breaks 
the agreement and takes five more— -The brothers arrive first, and 
take ap their effects to Leif s houses — Freydis objects and they erect 
a separate building — Winter begins and amusements are set on foot 
— Checked by discord^ ending in a cessation of intercourse — Freydis 
adopts a stratagem to arouse her husband's anger against the bro- 
thers — ^They are fallen upon sleeping and killed — Barbarity of 
Freydis — She threatens to murder any who disclose her misdeeds, 
and returns to Greenland in the spring . . .106 



Discovery of the crimes of Freydis — Karlsefne sails with a rich cargo 
to Norway — Both he and his wife are held in great honour there — 
He prepares to return to Iceland — ^The Htisasnotrutr6 — Half a mark 
of gold given for it by a German — supposed to be the bird's-eye 
maple, found in Massachusetts •— Karlsefne buys the Glaumbse 
estate in Iceland — A numerous and distinguished race spring from 
him and Gudrid — His death — Snorri^ their son, builds a church— 
Gudrid becomes a nun — Posterity of Snorri Karlsefheson — Bishop 
Thorlak Runolfsou, a descendant of Karlsefne, and the probable com- 
piler of these yoy ages . . .110 


Fragment of Vellum Codex, No. 192, describing the situation of Hellu- 
land, Markland, and Vinland— Remarkable fragment called Gripla, 
from the celebrated collection of ]^om Johnson . .113 



The Dighton Writing Rock — Runic stone at Kingikt6r8oak, shewing 
discoveries in the Arctic regions'— Astronomical knowledge of the 
Northmen in the 11th century — Mistake of supposing them to be 
pirates — Proof of their ciyilization and attainments — Arguments 
founded on their extended intercourse — The state of Ireland in the 
8th century favourable to their improyement — ^The Icelandic North- 
men differ from those of Scandinavia — Kakortok church — Runic 
stones at Igaliko and Igikeit — Icelandic Annals — Communication 
with Markland to the middle of the 1 4th century — Fate of the 
Greenland settlements — Re-discovery in the I8th century — Hans 
Egede — Present condition of Greenland . . . .117 




Locality of Thule—The Irish Papas — Irish called Westmen by the 
Icelanders-^Their residence in Iceland in 795 and in Faros in 725^ 
Extract from Dicuil — Ari Marson's Yoyage to Great Ireland — Rafn 
the Limerick merchant — Intercourse of the Northmen with Ireland 
— Geographical Fragment — Voyage of Bjom Asbrandson to Great 
Ireland — His previous history — Observations of Bishop Miiller on 
the Eyrbyggja Saga — ^Voyage of Gudleif Gudlavgson to Great Ire- 
land — Arguments in proof of an early Irish settlement on the East 
coast of America — Affinity between the Celtic and American Indian 
languages — Nautical means and knowledge of the Irish— The Cur- 
rach — Phoenician and Celtiberian intercourse — Druidism — The Og- 
ham character — Value of the arguments founded on the absence of 
Irish MSS— Evidence which these enquiries offer in support of the 
Mosaic records— Conclusion . . . . .173 


Complete Dial of the Antient Northmen . . . 234 

Genealogical Tables ...... 240 


Plate I. Map of Vinland .... to face the Title 

Plate II. General Chart .... to face Part III, 
Plate III. The Assonet, or Dighton Writing Rock to face Part II. 

^* Der ar flagga p& mast och den visar hi Norr, 
Och i Norr ar den alskade jord ; 
Jag vill folja de bimmelska vindaruas g^ng^ 
Jag vill styra tillbaka mot Nord/' 

Frithiop's Saga ap. Tbgner. 



'^ There's the flag on the mast, and it points to the North, 

And the North holds the land that I love ; 
I will steer back to northward, the heavenly course 

Of the windB, gaidiug sure from above !" 

Tegnbr — 8ee ante. 

The national literature of Iceland holds >a distinct and 
eminent position in the literature of Europe. In that 
remote and cheerless isle, separated by a wide and stormy 
ocean, from the more genial climates of southern lands, reli- 
gion and learning took up their tranquil abode, before the 
south of Europe had yet emerged from the mental darkness, 
which followed the fall of the Roman Empire. There the 
unerring memories of the Skalds and Sagamen were the 
depositories of past events, which, handed down, from age 
to age, in one unbroken line of historical tradition, were 
committed to writing on the introduction of Christianity, 
and now come before us with an internal evidence of their 
truth, which places them amongst the highest order of his- 
torical records. 

To investigate the origin of this remarkable advance^ 
ment in mental culture, and trace the progressive steps by 
which Icelandic literature attained an eminence, which 
even now imparts a lustre to that barren land, is an object 
of interesting and instructive inquiry, and will, it is pre- 
sumed, form an acceptable introduction to the perusal of 
the ancient Icelandic manuscripts^ which constitute the text 
of the present volume. 


The author has, therefore, availed himself of an able 
essay by Bishop Miiller on this interesting subject,* to put 
before his readers, in a concise form, the leading charac- 
teristics of that peculiar state of society, which generated 
these evidences of peaceful and civilized pursuits, and gave 
birth to productions, which, like their own Aurora, stood 
forth the Northmen's meteor in the shades of night ! 

Among no other people of Europe can the conception 
and birth of historical literature be more clearly traced, 
than amongst the people of Iceland. Here it can be shewn 
how memory took root, and gave birth to narrative ; how 
narrative multiplied and increased until it was committed 
to writing; how the written relation became eventually 
sifted and arranged in chronological order, until at length, 
in the withering course of time, the breath which had given 
life and character to the whole^ fled hence, and only the 
dead letter remained behind. 

But why was it Icelanders, in particular, who kindled 
the torch of history in the North ? How came its light to 
spread so far from this remote and unimportant island? 
What cause led Icelanders more than any other people, to 
a minute observation of both the present and the past ? 
How came they to clothe these recollections in connected 
narratives, and eventually to commit them to writing?— 
are questions which first naturally present themselves, and 
the true solution of which, can alone lead to a correct 
estimate of the value of Icelandic annals. 

It is well known that, when towards the end of the ninth 
century, Iceland had been discovered by the roving 
northern Vikings, the imperious sway of Harald Haarfager, 

* Om den islandske Historie-skrifnings Oprindelse, Flor og Undergang, 
af Dr. Peter Erasmus Miiller, Biskop over SissUands Stift, published in the 
Nordisk Tidskrift for Oldkyndighed, 1 B. 1 II. Kjobenhavn, 1832. For 
the authorities on which this Essay is founded, the reader is referred to the 
publication itself, of which the present sketch, in all its historical features, 
may be considered an epitome. 


led many Norwegians to seek safety and independence in 
that distant island. But its remote position rendered the 
voyage thither both difficult and dangerous ; not one amongst 
hundreds of fugitives, — scarcely the chiefs themselves, who 
possessed large ships, — could provide the necessary outfit 
for a voyage, which often lasted for half the year; and the 
colonization of the new country was necessarily slow and 
progressive, and confined, at first, to the high-minded and 
more wealthy chieftains of the western coast. But the 
intelligence was soon abroad that brave and daring men 
had established themselves in a new country, where the 
cattle could provide for themselves in winter, where 
the waters were full of fish, and the land abounding in 
wood ; and many therefore determined upon removing to 
this favoured region. The tide of emigration from Norway 
progressively increased, and soon became so great, that 
Harald^ fearing that his kingdom would, eventually, be left 
desolate, prohibited it altogether, and laid a tax upon 
every voyager to Iceland. 

The chiefs took their families, servants, slaves, and 
cattle ; and many kinsmen and relatives, who were accus- 
tomed to follow the fortunes of the chief, accompanied 
him also on this new venture. The particular locality of 
their future residence, was determined by the wind and 
weather, united with an implicit faith in the superintending 
guidance of the tutelary idol, under whose invocation the 
seat-posts * were cast into the sea, and wherever these 
happened to be washed ashore, was the dwelling raised. 

* Ondvegissulur, or Setstokkar. These were tall carved wooden pillars, 
attached to the seat of the chief, and ornamented at the top with the figures 
of his tutelary deities, generally Thor or Odin ; the superstitious preference 
given to that particular part of the coast, upon which they happened to be 
cast, was so great, that Ingolf, the first Norwegian settler in Iceland, after 
a residence of three years at Ingolfshofdi, where he first landed, removed to 
the unfavourable situation of the present capital, Reykjavik, on finding that 
his Setstokka had drifted to that point. Antiq. Amer. p. 9, note a. ; Islands 

B 2 


In the course of sixty years, the whole island had become 
thus colonized* Meantime the first settlers had acquired 
no means of circumscribing the movements of the last, who 
with the same independent spirit as their predecessors, 
took possession of that particular tract of country, which 
appeared to them most eligible ; and the extent of the land, 
the difficulties of the voyage, and the limited number of the 
population, admitted, for some time, the continuance of 
this arbitrary appropriation. Amicable restrictions were 
the only checks that could be at first opposed to such un- 
constrained and uncertain movements, and these were all 
either of Norwegian origin, or brought directly from Nor- 
way. For many of the settlers were related by ties of 
blood; the greater number had made common cause 
against Harald ; in their native land, they had been accus- 
tomed to meet together at the Court (Thing), in the 
temple, at the great feast of Yule, at the periodical oiferings 
to their idols — and thus, naturally, and with one accord, 
they were led to establish a form of self-government some- 
what similar to that under which they had lived in Norway. 
The absence of any despotic ruler gave, however, the new 
community a great advantage over the parent state, and 
hence arose a constitution more free than the model upon 
which it had been formed. 

This little republic was held together solely by moral 

Opdagelee og BebyggeUe af N. M. Petersen, Nord. Tidsk. for Oldkyn. B. 1. 

p. 258-9. Tegner thus describes the Setstokka in the banquetting hall of 

Frith iof: — 

** hog satespelame b&da 

Stodo for andau deraf, tv& Gudar skuraa af almtrad ; 
Oden med herrskareblick, och Frej med solen pa hatten." 

Frithiofs Saga III. p. 18. 

the high seat pillars both 

Stood there, two Gods of fairest elm-wood carved 
Odin with lordly mein, and brilliant Frey, 
Around whose head the radiant sunshine plays. 


laws. Some of the richer emigrants had slaves, which 
after putting to cultivate some particular lands, they libe- 
rated: all others were free; the sturdy yeoman was the 
unrestricted lord of his own soil ; if he came into collision 
with his neighbour, and thought himself more powerful, 
he slew him without scruple, but thereupon immediately 
endeavoured either through the intercession of the chief of 
the district, or some other influential person, to screen 
himself from reproach, or eflect a reconciliation with the 
friends of the deceased, by the payment of a fine. 

The situation of chief generally arose from the relative 
position of the ship's-company in the mother country, 
which led to one particular individual among the crew, 
taking possession of the new district in his own name; but 
it oftener depended upon property or personal bravery. 
Was he a gallant warrior, or could aflbrd to keep more 
servants an4 slaves than his neighbours, his assistance 
became of importance in settling disputes : and the same 
cause produced a reciprocal feeling in support of the chipf, 
on the part of those whom he assisted. 

Before a certain number of statutes had been collected 
and formally established, the people followed the old cus- 
toms of their native land, the parties themselves naming 
their judges from amongst the neighbouring yeomen ; but 
although there was no want of legal forms, to which they 
could appeal, or chicanery, by which justice could be 
evaded, the result more often depended upon the relative 
strength and influence of the party, than upon the merits of 
the case. At the district courts (Herredsthinget), the in- 
fluence of the Chief was considerable, but not altogether 
paramount; many of the more wealthy yeomen could ofler 
him eifective resistance : his influence at the superior court 
(Althinget), depended upon his personal reputation, the 
power of his friends, and the number of his followers. 

The income of the Chiief was principally derived from 


the tract of land, of which he had taken possession on his 
arrival ; he was also, in most cases, the Hofgode, or priest 
of the temple ; and for the duties of this office, in which 
providing the altar with oiferings was included, he received 
a small contribution (hoftoUr) from every farm in the 
neighbourhood. To this was afterwards added compen- 
sation for journeys to the Althing, and he also received 
fees from those whose causes he conducted, as well as a 
small payment from the ships which landed their cai^oes 
on his ground. But all these various sources, did not 
furnish him with any considerable income, and his land 
remained his principal means of support. The office was 
hereditary, as in Norway, but it could also be sold or re- 
signed, and sometimes was lost by being appropriated to the 
payment of a judicial fine. 

Notwithstanding this elevated position of the Chief, it 
not unfrequently happened that a powerful individual in 
the province, acquired a higher reputation, and obtained 
more clients than his superior. Thus after Olaf Paa had 
returned from his celebrated expedition to Ireland, married 
the daughter of the powerful Egil Skalagrim, and became 
possessed of his father-in-law's property, many people 
flocked around him, and he became a great chief, without 
being actually a Godordsman, or pontiff. 

So long as the colonization continued, the extent of the 
island secured internal peace ; the Landnamsmen, as the 
first settlers were called, had few disputes amongst them- 
selves, for every one was taken up with his own affairs 
and although it might sometimes happen, that a quarrelsome 
individual by single combat (Holmgang*) or the threat of 
personal encounter, would drive another from his farm, 
disputes and contests were of rare occurrence. Another 

* From kolrtiy a small island. So called in consequence of these duels ge- 
nerally taking place upon one of the small neighbouring islands, from whence 
the combatants could not so easily escape. 


local circumstance of no inconsiderable importance as con- 
nected with the tranquillity of the country, was the diminu- 
tive character of the forests in Iceland. These consisted of 
dwarf trees, ill suited to ship building, and therefore only 
small vessels could be built upon the island; whoever 
wished to trade to Norway, entered into partnership with 
some Norwegian merchant, or bought a vessel which had 
been already brought out from the parent state. Such 
vessels could not, however, be used for piratical expeditions, 
and those who wished to engage in such adventures, were 
obliged to join some kindred spirits in Norway who pos- 
sessed what was called a long ship (Langskip). These dif- 
ficulties of outfit, connected with the want of sufiicient 
hands for warlike purposes, and the long distance from the 
coasts, where they were accustomed to carry on their 
piratical proceedings, was doubtless the cause of so few of 
the new settlers being concerned in sea-roving, while, in all 
other matters, they followed the customs of their ancestors. 

Thus did this remote and comparatively barren island, 
give freedom and peace to many of Norway's bravest sons, 
far from their native land. Instead of participating in the 
dangers of the perilous voyage, or aiding in the obstinate 
encounter, or sharing in the lawless spoil, when plunder 
conferred upon the Sea-king both a fortune and a name, 
they now sat down peacefully in their tranquil homes, or 
directed the agricultural labours of their servants and de- 
pendants. And now did faithful memory carry them back 
in imagination to the old and warlike time, whose features 
appeared the more brilliant when contrasted with the tran- 
quillity of their present pursuits ; personal deeds led to the 
remembrance of those of the father, for it was often in 
avenging his death, that their prowess had been first called 
forth, or from his kinsmen or associates that they had re- 
ceived the first assistance. The colonists were, besides, 
men of high family ; the Scandinavians were accustomed 
to set great weight upon this circumstance ; the fewer were 


the outward distinctions that characterized the individual^ 
the more important was that prerogative considered which 
promised magnanimity and valour. The stranger was 
therefore minutely questioned about his family, and even 
the peasant girl despised the suitor whose lineage was un- 
known. In the mother country the remembrance of the 
old families lived amongst the people of the district ; they 
had travelled together to the national assembly; the pa- 
ternal barrow, and the antient hall bore testimony to their 
noble birth, — but of this, nothing save the relation could 
accompany them to Iceland, and therefore, was the new 
settler so careful in detailing to his sons and posterity, the 
history and achievements of their kinsmen in Norway. 
ITie son equally tenacious of ancestral fame, failed not to 
propagate the same minute details amongst his immediate 
descendants, and thus was insensibly formed, among the 
Icelanders, connected oral narratives of the families, for- 
tunes, and actions of their ancestors. 

These Sagas or traditions, did not generally go further 
back than the time of the father and grandfather ; but the 
recollections preserved in the songs of the Skalds, were of 
much older date, and a number of historical songs can be 
pointed out, which the Icelanders ftitist have brought with 
them to the new country. Others were historical in a more 
limited sense, being thrown into rhyme for the occasion, to 
flatter the vanity of some powerful chief, by a poetical 
representation of his genealogy; but the more numerous 
were those in which all the achievements of a hero were 
specifically enumerated. 

These compositions bore little evidence of Brage's* 

* Brage, the fourth son of Odin and Frigga, was the Apollo of the Northern 
Mythology; he chaunted the exploits of the Gods and heroes to the tones 
of a golden harp, and was represented by the figure of an old man, with a 
snow-white beard. Runes were said to be upon his tongue, he was rather 
given to strong drinks, and not very celebrated for courage.-- See Manual 
of Scandinavian Mythology, by Grenville Pigott^ p. 90. 


favour. Under the jingle of rude rhymes and alliteration, 
a pictorial expression was given to sword-cuts and slaughter, 
which brought to remembrance the order in which the 
several achievements had succeeded each other. The poet- 
ical form is more visible in the earlier songs, such as: 
Homklove*s Ode on Harald Haarfager, particularly his de- 
scription of the battle of Hafurs^ord* than in the later, 
such as Ottar Svartes Ode on the combats of Olaf the 
Saint; and those compositions have still more poetical 
worth, in which, like Ey vind Skialdespilders Ode in praise 
of the fallen king Hakon Adelsteen, the writers express 
the feeling which the events call forth. 

It may be readily supposed that heroic verses, sung by 
the Skalds themselves in the courts of heroes, were com- 
mitted to memory, and that at a time when this was the 
only means of recording their achievements, such verses 
would pass orally through many generations. The memory 
was also sometimes aided by carving the verses in Runic 
lettersf upon a staff. The dying Halmund is introduced 
in Gretter's Saga, saying to his daughter : — " Thou shalt 
now listen whilst I relate my deeds, and sing thereof a song, 
which thou shalt afterwards cut upon a staff" In Egils 
Saga, also, Thorgerd, addressing her father Egil Skalagrim- 
sen, whose grief for the loss of his son Bodvar, had made 
him resolve on putting an end to his existence, says : — ^' I 
wish, father, that we might live long enough for you to sing 
a funeral song upon Bodvar, and for me to cut it upon a 

* The famous naval engagement in the Bay of HafursQord, now caUed 
Stavanger^ord, (A. D. 875,) made Harald Haarfager master of the entire 
kingdom of Norway. 

t The word Rnne is said to be derived from ryn a farrow or channel ; the 
invention is attributed to Odin and his Aser or Gods ; the alphabet consists 
of sixteen letters, which like the Hibemo-Celtic, claims Phoenician origin. 
See Leit&den fur Nordischen Alterthumskunde, herausgegeben von der 
Koniglichen Gesellschaft fiir Nordische Alterthumskunde. Copenhagen 
1837, p. 75, et seq. Moore's History of Ireland, Vol. I. p. 54. 


Sametimes verses were immediately dommitted to me- 
mory by a number of persons. When King Olaf the Saint 
drew up his army for the battle of Stikklestad (1030), he 
directed the Skalds to stand within the circle (Skioldborg), 
which the bravest men had formed around the king. <' Ye 
shall," said he, '^ stand here, and see what passes, and thus 
will ye not require to depend on the Sagas of others for 
what ye afterwards relate and sing." The Skalds now 
consulted with each other, and said that it would be fitting 
to indite some memorial of that which was about to happen, 
upon which each improvised a strophe, and the historian* 
adds: "these verses the people immediately learned." 
In the same manner, much older songs were held in re- 
membrance, and there is still extant in that part of Snorros 
£dda,f called Kenningar, a fragment of Brage the Skalds 
ode on Ragnor Lodbrok, by means of which he, in the 
7th century, moderated the anger of Bjom Jemside, against 
himself. In the same poem are fragments of an old ode on 
the fall of Rolf Krake, which St. Olaf directed the Skald, 
Thormod Kolbran, to sing, when the battle of Stikklestad 
was to commence. The whole army, says the Saga, was 

* Snorro Sturleson, in the Heimskringl& or History of the Norwegian 

t There are two works which bear the title of Edda ; the one called the El- 
der Edda in verse, and the other the Yoanger Edda in prose. The first may 
be considered a symbolical work on the Scandinavian Mythology, the latter 
a kind of commentary on the former. The Elder or Poetic Edda was com- 
piled by the eminent Icelander Seemund, sumamed Erode, or the Learned ; 
the Younger or Prose Edda by Snorro Sturleson. The latter is composed of 
three i>art8, namely : Ist. Mythological Fables; 2nd. The Kenningar, being 
a collection of epithets and metaphors employed by the Skalds, and illos- 
trated by fragments from their compositions, and from the Elder Edda ; 
3rd. The Scalda, or Poet's Book, containing three treatises ; the first being 
a treatise on the Icelandic characters and alphabets; the second on 
grammatical, rhetorical, and poetical figures; and the third on prosody. 
See Pigott's Manual of Scandinavian Mythology, Introduction, p. xlii. 
et seq. 


pleased at hearing this old song, which they called the 
Soldier's Whetstone, and the king thanked the bard, and 
gave him a gold ring that weighed half a mark. 

Bat it was more particularly, the Skalds themselves who 
preserved the older songs in remembrance. By hearing 
these, their own poetical character had been formed, their 
memories sharpened; and a knowledge of the past was 
necessary for the acquisition of those mythic and historical 
allusions, which were considered indispensable to poetical 
expression. An instance of their historical knowledge is 
thus mentioned in the Landnamabok :* when King Harald 
Haardraade lay with his army in Holland, two large bar- 
rows were observed on the edge of the strand, but no one 
knew who was interred there ; however, on the return of the 
army to Norway, Kare the black, a kinsman of the famous 
Skald Theodolf af Hvine, was enabled to state that the 
graves contained the bodies of Snial and Hiald, the two 
warlike sons of the old Norwegian King Vatnar, This 
historical knowledge of the Skalds led to their being held 
in high respect thoughout Scandinavia, and we find them 
allotted the first place at the courts of Kings. Harald 
Haarfager is stated to have had more respect for the Skalds, 
than for all the rest of his courtiers, and, more than a cen- 
tury later, they appear to have been held in equal estima- 

* The Landnamabok or Book of the first Norwegian setUers in Iceland, Is 
the most complete national record that has, perhaps, ever been compiled. 
It contains the names of aboat 3000 persons, and 1400 places, and forms a 
minute genealogical regbter of the colonists, their properties, kinsmen, and 
descendants, together with short notices of their achievements. The com- 
pilation was the work of several authors, beginning with Are, sumamed 
hinnt Frode, or the learned, (b. 1067, d. 1148) continued by Kolsteg, 
Styrmer, and Thordseu, and ending with Hauk Erlendson, for many years 
Lagman, or Governor of Iceland, who died A.D. 1334. The Landnamabok 
is considered the first authority in all matters connected with the early 
history of the island, and will be often found quoted in the present 


tion by the Swedish King, Olaf Skiodkonning, who i» 
stated to have taken great delight in their freedom of 

The northern pagan Skalds must not however be looked 
upon as the Grecian Aonides, whose only province was to 
sing; they bear a nearer resemblance to the Proven9aI 
Knights, were were also Troubadours. The Scandinavian 
bards were besides of goodly lineage, for only the higher, 
and more independent conditions of life could call forth 
Brage's favour ; they were also well versed in warlike ex- 
ercises ; the song was the accompaniment to the combat, 
and we have nearly as many records of their heroic deeds 
as of their poetical eflusions. They were, also, at times^ the 
favourites or confidants of kings, like Theodolf af Hvine, 
who was the bosom friend of Harald Haarfager^ and Jlein, 
to whom the Danish King, Eisteen, gave his daughter an 
'iharriage. *' '■' ' '^'^ ^"-^ ' •^■•■••■•■* 't*).'i.O'( ^^ nu. xi> •mv, 

Thus were the Skalds well »fur)nished with knowledge 
of both the present and the past, and, therefore^ has the 
sagacious SnorroSturleson truly sand; in the' Preface > to ..his 
work :* — " The principal foundation is taken from the songs 
that were sung before the chiefs, or their children, and we 
hold all that to be true, which is there stated, of tlieir deeds 
and combats. It was, no doubt, the practice of the Skalds 
to praise those the most, in whose presence they stood, but 
no one, even so circumstanced, would venture to tell of 
actions, which both he, and all those who heard him, 

* The Heimskriogla, or historyo the Kings of Norway^ behig a complete 
history of Scandinavia for 300 years. " To this work," says an eloqnent 
and learned writer, '* we are indebted for our chief knowledge of those 
Norman chiefs, whose names made the Kings of Europe tremble in their 
palaces, and whose descendants now sit on the mightiest of their thrones." 
Historical and descriptive account of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe 
islands (Ed. Cab. Lib. XXVIII. p. 148), a little work, which, with its 
companion, *' Scandinavia," by Drs. Crichton and Wheaton, forms an 
admirable compendium of northern history. 


knew to be false^ for that would be an affront, instead of a 

Besides heroic songs, or Drapas, single Strophes were 
often improvised, not only by Skalds^ but by many other 
individuals, of both sexes, in a critical moment ; and these, 
by being committed to memory, preserved the remembrance 
of the occasion which called them forth. Like the Orien- 
talists, the Northmen loved to shew their wit by an enig- 
matical and antithetical mode of speaking, and from thence, 
the ear having been once accustomed to the simple mean 
sure, the transition was easy to the formation of a strophe, 
by means of alliteration or rhyme. 

The means of preserving the recoUections of past events, 
which have been here pointed out, were, for the most part, 
common both to those who remained in Norway, and those 
who emigrated to iiie new country ; but in the parent state, 
the stream of present events, carried away and obscured 
die jrecollections ' of the. past^. The changes which came 
upon the whole nation from Har^d Haarfager's time, were 
nitutallyloifted iupon by the Norwegians, as more impor- 
tant than the events in which only individual persons or 
families 'had nbfeeiKpreviouslyi concerned. . The Icelanders, 
^*ihQio6tLdr hhnd^Tbwed .the; affe<;ting their home, 
while the other appeared to be the transactions of a foreign 
country, and thus the recollections which up to the time of 
the migration had been preserved in the several detached 
districts of Norway, were transferred to, and became united 
in Iceland, as the one settler enumerated to the other, the 
valorous deeds and achievements of his forefathers. 

Besides, it was amongst the families of high birth, that 
these antient traditions were best preserved. Such families 
mmntained an unbroken succession in Iceland, whereas in 
Norway they became extinct, first, in consequence of the 
many events under the immediate successors of Harald 
Haarfager, and next, from the furious zeal of Olaf in the 


propagation of Christianity, which brought ruin to the more 
tenacious adherents of the old faith, and these were just the 
individuals, amongst whom the ancient Sagas were best pre- 
served. Not less destructive to the old families was the 
unfortunate expedition to England and Ireland, under Ha- 
raid Haardraade and Magnus Barfod, in the 11th cen- 
tury,* as also the long civil wars in the 12th century, which 
ended with the fall of the Optimists. 

The other parts of Scandinavia also produced Skalds, 
and several, both Danish and Swedish, are mentioned in 
the antient Sagas ; but these countries were of much 
greater extent, and ruled by much more powerful monarchs, 
than Norway, previous to the 9th century ; and thus did 
the heroic age terminate, and the songs of the Skalds be- 
come silent at an earlier period there than in the neigh- 
bouring kingdom. 

* ^< According to our annals," says Moore, 'Mt was not tillA.D. 1102, 
that this prince commenced his operations by a hostile descent upon 
Dublin 3" a pacific arrangement was then entered into, but having been 
violated, as alleged, by the Irish monarch Mnrkertach, Magnus invaded 
tiie country in the following year, with a fleet of fifteen ships ; when being 
inveigled into an ambuscade by the natives, he was attacked by them in 
great numbers, his retreat to his ships cut ofi^ and himself kiUed in the 
action. — Hist. Ireland, Vol. II. p. 165. 


We have thus seen how the desire to tell of old times 
arose and was propagated amongst the inhabitants of the 
new colony. But the remembrance and relation of indivi- 
dual exploits, and the transmission of these records from one 
generation to the other, would, perhaps, have never led to the 
Icelanders becoming historians, had not such habits been 
united with a strong feeling for poetry, a desire for fame, 
and that peculiar state of society, which had been formed 
amongst them. 

The island had been colonized in peace; each enter- 
prising navigator, as he touched its shore, took possession 
of a tract of land, without impediment, and became the 
independent proprietor of his small estate ; but now these 
settlements approached each other ; interests began to clash ; 
individual demeanour to become developed. — Thq social 
bonds had been too loosely attached, to keep within due 
limits the wild self will of so many impetuous Northmen. 
True, their ancient Norwegian customs had been sponta- 
neously resumed on their arrival, and fifty years later (A. D. 
928), the laws of Ulfliot had given a form and consistency 
to the moral code ; but these checks had little weight 
when individual power or interest were enabled to oppose 
them. Personal strength was necessary for personal safety ; 
and the many narratives which have been preserved, de- 
tailing the untimely fate of the most respectable families, 
in the course of the first two centuries, exhibit a long list of 
feuds, and deeds of violence, unchecked by the laws, or the 
judicial authority of the land. •- 




These civil broils were not, however, in general, of a very 
sanguinary character, and often consisted of individual en- 
counters, where courage and presence of mind were equally 
exhibited on both sides, and the contest was obstinate ; in a 
more general fray, the loss was looked upon as considerable, 
if ten men fell. 

The time of feud was also a time of re-union : the object 
of the individual was spread abroad ; discussion was created^ 
sympathy was awakened ; the relative merits of the con- 
tending parties became the theme of conversation^ and the 
Skalds were stimulated to the composition of new speci- 
mens of their inspiring art. On particular occasions they 
improvised. Hate as well as love formed the theme of 
these effusions, and the same means were employed to give 
a graceful form to satire, in which style of composition 
these antient poets were remarkably successful : in fact, so 
cutting were these sallies, and of so much weight among a 
people peculiarly under the influence of public opinion, 
that they often became the causes of bloodshed, and were 
looked upon as a ground of complaint before the Courts.* 
For the most part, however, the songs were of an historical 
character ; sometimes the Skald sang of his own exploits, 
sometimes of those of his friends, who, upon such occasions, 
were accustomed to present him with costly gifts : After 
the Norwegian Skald Eyvind Skialdespilder had sung a 
Drapa, or ode in praise of the Icelanders, every peasant in 
the island contributed three pieces of silver, which were 

♦ " As an instance of the effect produced by these satirical songs, it is 
related that Harold Blaatand, King of Denmark, was so incens^ 'at soilne 
severe lines, which the Icelanders had made upon him, for seizing one' of 
their ships, that he sent a fleet to ravage the island, which occurrence led 
them to make a law, subjecting any one to capital punishment, who should 
indulge in satire against the Sovereigns of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark !" 
— Mallet*» Northern Antiquities, ap. Iceland, Gfeciiland, &c.— Edi' Cab. 
Lib. XXVIII. p. 163. 


applied to the purchase of a clasp or ornament for a mantel, 
that weighed 50 marks, and this they sent to the bard, as 
an acknowledgement of his poetic powers. 

The climate and mode of living contributed to keep alive 
this taste for poetry, which the Icelanders had inherited 
from their Norwegian ancestors. Agriculture was almost 
entirely confined to the care of pasture and meadow land ; 
fishing could only be carried on at certain seasons, and the 
feeding of cattle required little attention. Their hostile 
proceedings were, also, soon concluded ; but was a reprisal 
apprehended, it became necessary for the chief to retain 
his followers at the farm, until a reconciliation was brought 
about, and these assembling in the common room, during 
the long winker evenings, contributed to increase the social 
union, and reciprocal communication of past events. 
Public amusements, also, brought the people frequently 
together : besides the great feasts, which lasted from eight 
to fourteen days, sports and games, such as bowls or 
wrestling, were carried on in the several districts for many 
weeks in succession ; and still more attractive was the 
Heste-thing, where horses were excited against each other, 
to the great amusement of both old and young. To these 
reunions must be added those caused by attendance at the 
difierent courts, and particularly at the Althing* or general 
Assizes, where all the first men of the island met annually, 
with great pomp and parade. It was looked upon as a 
disgrace to be absent from this meeting, which was held in 
the open air on the banks of the Thingvalla Vatn, the 
largest lake in Iceland, a natural hill or mount forming the 

* Ting or Thing signifies in the old Scandinavian tongue, to speak, and 
hence a popular assembly, or court of justice. The national assembly of 
Norway still retains the name of Stor-thing, or great meeting, and is divided 
into two chambers called the Lag-thing, and Odels- thing. 



" fust by the barrow 

Roand whose green sides, shield touching shield, 
And sword in hand, the gallant Northmen stood 
Rings in each other circling, till they reached 
Up to the summit."* 

To figure here with a display and retinue that drew upon 
him the eyes of all beholders, was the great ambition of the 
Chief, whose power and influence depended much upon 
the number of friends and followers he could produce on 
such occasions. These were again determined by the 
degree of support and assistance, which they could calculate 
on obtaining from him, in the hour of need ; and hence the 
anxiety on the part of the Icelandic yeoman, to be folly 
acquainted with the character and circumstances of his 
chief, to which cause may be more immediately attributed, 
the interest which he took in all new Sagas or narratives of 
remarkable individuals. 

In the Laxdaela Saga,f it is related that, after a brave 
Icelander, named BoUe BoUeson, had gallanfly defeated an 
assailant, by whom he had been attacked, in the course of 
a journey through the island, his exploit became the sub- 
ject of a new Saga, which quickly spread over the district, 
and added considerably to his reputation. In Gisle Sur- 
sens Saga, a stranger is introduced, saying to hb neigh- 
bours at the court — " Shew me the men of great deeds, 
those from whom the Sagas proceed." 

The greater number of the remaining Sagas, bear what 

* upp^ attehogen, 

Och kring dess grona sidor, skold vid skold, 

Och svard i handen, stodo Nordens man, 

Den ena ringen innan for den andra, 

Upp emot toppen !"— Frithiof*8 Saga, VIII. p. 66. 

t The annalB of a particular family, as the Eyrbiggia Saga is of a particular 
district in Iceland. The former has been translated Into Latin by Mr. Repp, 
and Sir Walter Scott has given a brief account of the other. 


may be called a political stamp ; they contain a detail of 
the most important disputes between individual families, 
or districts, painted in the most minute manner, and fol- 
lowed by a general description of the most important per- 
sonages in the narrative. How much weight was attached 
to these personal descriptions is shewn by the nature of the 
Icelandic language, which is richer than any other Euro- 
pean tongue in words, that express those various qualities 
and shades of character which are of the most importance in 
society. The exterior of the chief person in the Saga 
is also painted with equal accuracy, especially his fea- 
tures, in which the richness of the language is also ob- 
servable; and even the particulars of the dress are not 
omitted. This was of importance in a country where it was 
not always easy to determine, whether the stranger who 
ndade his appearance was friend or foe, and a remarkable 
instance is mentioned in the Laxdaela Saga of a chief named 
Helge Hardbeinsen identifying some stranger knights, whom 
he had never seen, solely from the accurate description of 
their personal appearance, which was brought to him by the 
messenger, who communicated the intelligence of their 

The same characteristics are imprinted on the Sagas. 
The pecuUarities of the narrator never appear ; it is as if 
one only heard the simple echo of an old tradition ; no in- 
troductory remarks are made, but the history begins at 
once abruptly with: — ^* There was a man called so and so. 
son of so and so," &c. : no judgment is pronounced upon the 
transaction, but it is merely added that this deed increased 
the hero's reputation, or that was considered bad. In 
most Sagas the dialogistic form prevails, particularly in 
those of more antient date, for this form was natural to the 
people, who insensibly threw their narratives into dialogue, 
and thus they acquired a more poetical colouring; for not only 
were the conversations related which had actually taken 

c 2 


place, but also, those which, from the nature of the subject, 
it might have been concluded had been held ; and the ge^ 
neral mode of expression being simple, and nearly' umforttij 
and the character being best developed in this definite fcHnn, 
those imaginary conversations were, for the mtost part, not' 
inconsistent with truth. 

The talent for narrating was naturally generated by the 
desire of hearing these narratives. Those Skalds who 
remembered the old Sagas, and whose imagination was 
lively, were best enabled to adopt the dramatic form, and 
now, independent of their local or political interest, the nar- 
ratives became interesting on their own account. Scarce 
a century after the colonization of the country, we find that 
the people took great pleasure in this amusement. *^ Is no 
one come," asks Thorvard, at a meeting of the people 
mentioned in Viga Glums Saga, " who can amuse us with 
a new story V* They answered him : " There is always 
sport and amusement when thou art present.'* He replied : 
" I can think of nothing better than Glum's songs," upon 
which he sung one of those which he had learned. In the 
Sturlunga Saga, a certain priest, named Ingemund, is 
mentioned as a man rich in knowledge, who told good 
stories, afibrded much amusement, and indited good songs, 
for which he obtained payment abroad. Such a narrator 
was called a Sagaman. 

ITius did oral tradition, beginning with the mythic, pro- 
ceed thence to the historical, and end with the fabulous. We 
have now come to the period when books were written and 
coUectied in the island ; but in order to trace the cause of 
that peculiar fondness for their own history, which led the 
Icelanders, not only to become the historians of Iceland, 
but of the whole North, it is necessary to go back to the 
earlier condition of the country and the people. 

It may at first sight appear that the local position of this 
remote island would be alone sufficient to prevent the in- 


habitants from taking any interest in the affairs of other 
countries; but the communication with Norway continued ; 
the migration from thence lasted for many generations, even 
after the island was colonized, and many merchant ships 
passed .annually between Iceland and the parent state .''^ 
They brought with them meal, building timber, leather, fine 
cloth, and tapestry, taking in exchange silver, skins, coarse 
cloth (Vadmel), and other kinds of woollens, as well as 
dried fish. 

As soon as it was known that a merchant had brought a 
cargo to the Icelandic coast, the chief of the temple, and in 
later times, the governor of the province, rode down imme- 
diately to the ship, and asked for news ; he then fixed the 
price at which the various goods were to be sold to the 
people of the district, chose what he wanted for himself, 
and invited the captain of the vessel to stop at his house for 
the> winter. The visitor was now looked upon as one of the 
family, he entered into their amusements, and disputes, 
entertained them at Yule with his stories, and presented 
his host, at parting, with a piece of English tapestry, or 
some other costly, gift, in return for the hospitality which he 
had received. Piratical expeditions had at this time, given 
place to trading voyages, and the merchant, or ship's captain 
was often a. person of good family ; sometimes attached to 
the Norwegian Court, and hence well acquainted with all 
that was passing there. How much this intercourse tended 
to' the increase of historical material is shewn by an old MS. 

* Althdugh nd hientlon is made by BiBbop Miiller of any commanication 
between Iceland and Ireltind at this period, it seems yet highly probable that 
such mtercourse did ^ist, as also between Iceland and the British is^es. 
Mr. Moore^ notwithstanding an evident disposition to depreciate the value 
of Icelandic authorities, admits as a *^ knoionfaci" founded on these very 
document?, the early settlement of the Irish in Iceland, ** to which island,*' 
he says, *' inaccessible as it might seem to have been to the rude navigation 
of those days, it is certain that a number of Irish missionaries of the seventh 
and eighth centuries contrived to find their way." — History of Ireland, Vol. 
II. p. 3. 


of St. Olafs Saga^ wherein is stated that: — "In the time of 
Harald Haarfager, there was much sailing from Norway to 
Iceland ; every summer was news communicated between 
the two countries, and this was afterwards remembered, and 
became the subject of narratives/' 

The Icelanders not only received intelligence from Nor- 
way, but brought it away themselves. They were led to un- 
dertake these voyages as well from the desire to see their 
relations, and claim inheritances, as for the purpose of pro- 
curing more valuable building timber than the merchant 
could bring them. The chief considered that his reputation 
depended much upon the number of persons he could enter- 
tain, and for this purpose a spacious hall was required. 
This formed a separate building, in the midst of which the 
cheerful wood fire blazed upwards to an aperture in the 
roof, unchecked by ceilings or partition walls : — 

The drinking haU, a separate house, was built 
Of heart of fir ; not twice three hundred men 

Could fill that hall, when gathered there at Yule. 

* * * * « 

The cheerful faggot on the straw strewn floor 
Unceasing blazed, gladdening its stony hearth, 
While downwards through the dense smoke shot the stars. 
Those heayenly friends, upon the guests below.* 

The adventurous stripling, on the other hand, sailed to 
Norway for the purpose of there engaging in a sea-roving 
expedition, or seeking advancement amongst his influential 
kinsmen ; and thus many earned renown at the courts of 
the Norwegian kings, or entered into mercantile pursuits in 

* <' Dryckesalen, ett hus for slg sjelf, var timrad af kamfur 
Ei femhundrade man (till tio tolfle p& hundrat) 
Pyllde den rymliga sal, nar de samlats att dricka om Julen.*' 

'' Mldt p& golfvet (mcd halm var det strodt) brann l&gan bestandigt, 
Gladt p^ sin murade hall ; och igenom det luftiga rokf &ng 
Blickade stjornorna in, de himmelska vanuer, i salen." 

Frithiofs Saga, III. p. 18, 19. 


order to obtain wealth, or experience and consideration. 
For the old Northern maxim of " a fool is the home-bred 
child,"* also held good in Iceland, and therefore do we 
find BoUe BoUesen saying to his father-in-law Snorro Gode, 
who wished to dissuade him from going abroad : << Little 
do I think he knows, who knows no more than Iceland." 
Trading was often undertaken by young men solely as the 
means of acquiring knowledge, which being accomplished, 
the pursuit was given up. 

After the lapse of a few centurieS; this passion for travel- 
ling was increased by a new cause, which had more imme- 
diate influence upon the collection of historical materials. 
The Skalds passed over to England, the Orkneys, and the 
Norwegian courts, seeking rewards and reputation. They 
neither required the aid of friends or money for such ex- 
peditions, but boldly entering the drinking hall of the 
kings, craved permission to sing a drapa in praise of the 
monarch, which was always granted, and the bard received 
handsome presents, such as weapons, clothes, gold rings, 
together with an honourable reception at the court, in re- 
turn for his exertions. 

The Icelandic Skalds, favoured by the independent posi- 
tion of their country, and a superior knowledge of the 
Scandinavian mythology, acquired a marked pre-eminence 
over their competitors in other parts of the North. The 
praises of a stranger bard, from a free country, were more 
flattering to a king or chieftain than the more servile adu- 
lation of his own laureate ; and it was but reasonable, as 
well as politic, to reward him well who had come from so 
great a distance, and who, travelling from land to land, 
could sound the king's praise, and tell of the royal bounty. 
The odes thus sung, were all of an historical character ; and 
it was, therefore, necessary for the Skald to be well ac- 
quainted with the deeds of the monarch and his ancestors. 

* •' Heimskr er heimalit barn.'* 


It was ako required of him that he should be able to xepeBt 
the national ballads ; and the extraordinary power p£:^e 
Skalds in this particular, is shewn in the saga of the blind 
Skald Stuf, who, one evening, sung sixty songs befiDre 
Harald Haardraade, and could repeat four times as iptiany 
longer poems ! > 

But if a knowledge of history was of importance to ' the 
Skald, it was absolutely indispensable to the Sagaman.:- A. 
remarkable anecdote of one of these narrators, is contained in 
the Saga of Thorstein Frode, preserved in the Ame^Mag* 
naean collection of Icelandic MSS. :* a certsdn Sagaman^ 
called Thorstein, repaired to King Harald, to Norway. TTie 
king asked him "whether he knew anything that would- 
amuse." He replied, that he knew a few sagas,: , '< I will ra^ 
ceive thee," said the king, " and thou shalt entertain whoever. 
requires it of thee." Thorstein becanae favoured blithe 
courtiers, and obtained clothes from them : the king also gave 
him a good sword. 

* Arnas Magnussen, a learned Icelander and ardent patriot, devoted tiis 
time, talents^ and fortune to the national literature of liis country. Filling 
the situation of Professor of Northern Antiquaries at the University of 
Copenhagen, in the beginning of the 18th century, he amassed the largest 
collection of books and manuscripts that has, perhaps, ever been brought 
together by one individual. Amongst these are the rarest and most ancient 
vellum MSS. in the old northern tongue, relating to the history,, lawi^ V^r 
ners, and customs of the ancient Scandinavians. The great fire of Copen-^, 
hagen, in 1728, robbed the devoted antiquary of many of these ofteo dearly 
purchased treasures ; but he recommenced his labours with undiminiBhed zeal^. 
and although then in his 65th year, was enabled to leave to hia oountry, at 
his death (A.D. 1730), nearly 2000 Icelandic MSS., together .with a fund of 
10,000 rix dollars for their publication. Little progress^ wba made towards 
carrying the testator's wishes into effect until a commission, called the.. 
Ame-Magnsean commission, was instituted by the King of Denmsakt in ' 
1772, soon after which the publication commenced, and all the most. tm|>o]> 
tant MSS. have been given to ihe public by this society. The ^oUectkm^ is 
called the Arne-Magneean collection, and is preserved ip the UniTecsity 
Library of Copenhagen.) See Biograpbiskc Efterretninger om Arne«Mag^ 
nussen, af £. C. Wcrlauf ap. Nord. Tid. f. Oldk. 1 B. 1 H. Kjobcnhavn, 


Towards Yule* he became sorrowful ; the khig guessed 
the cause, natnely, that his Sagas were at an end, and that he 
had nothing for Yule. He answered, that so it was ; he had 
one remainii^, and tiiat he durst not tell, for it was about the 
king's journeys. The king said that he should begin with 
that the first day of Yule, and he (the king) would take care 
that it diould last to the end of the festival. The thirteenth 
day, Th0P3tein*s Saga came to an end, and now he looked 
anxicme^fiori;hejudgttIenfrof the king, who said, smiling: 
« K4i^n§|5|heHr()«sfe' told' because thou hast a talent there- 
foiybtf^^ew didst thbu'get it ?'• TfeofSteirf= aWsi^ered : 
<*It! 4s my custom to repair every Stittimertb' the Althing 
in ouf la»d, and there I learij th^ 6ttgas whibH Haldor 
Snorri^son- relates;" The ki«g^ said: ' " th^n it is tio woiider 
thott knbwest Ihem so wellj'^and tipon thisj gaveiiiih a go6d 
ship load ; and now Thorstein passed often between Norway 
and Iceknd- ■ '■ 

To comprehend how such a narrative could have lasted 
thirteen days, we must presume that the dialogistic form 
was freely used, and that the story was interrupted and 
decorated with verses and poetical allusions to a consider- 
able extentr The anecdote also shews that while Sagamen 

• Yale was a*pagan festival, celebrated in honour of Thor, at the begin- 
ning of February, when the Northmen's year commenced, and they oflfered 
sacrifices for peace and fruitful seasons to this deity, who presided over Uie 
air^ launched the thunder, and guarded mankind from giants and genii : it 
lasted 14 days. Etymologists differ as to the dedvation of the name, but 
the most probable seems to be the supposition that it was so called from 
JokiiTy one of the many names for Odid; the father of Thor. After the in* 
trodaotioA of Christianity, the anniversary of Yule was transferred to Christ- 
mas, which is still called by that name throughout Scandinavia. The word 
Yule H Itlso'tiscfd in itiany parts of Scotland to denote the same festive 
period)- shewing the^early connection of the Caledonians with their more 
northern neighbours, and tending to confirm the conjecture of Tacitus, as 
weU as the acoounte of ancient English chroniclers, that the Plcts were of 
northern descent, or as Moore expressively says, '' from the same hive of 
northern adventurers, who were then pouring forth their predatory swarms 
over Europe." — Hist. Ireland, vol. i. p. 99. 


were of later origin than Skalds, they also stood in lower 
estimation: the Skald was enrolled amongst the courtiers; 
the Sagaman was only looked upon as an amusing visitor. 

In the 11th century, the Icelanders ceased to engage in 
piratical expeditions ; the chiefs, whose power and riches 
had increased, looked with contempt on trading voyages ; 
but on the other hand, it was often a result of their feuds^ 
that one of the parties was obliged to leave the country for 
a few years. Sometimes also they engaged in a voluntary 
pilgrimage to Rome. Such an expedition went first to 
Denmark, where it was always well received by the Danish 
kings, and more particularly in the 13th century, we find 
the Icelandic chiefs drawing forth expressions of respect and 
esteem at the court of Valdemar II. 

All these travellers were sure to return home after a few 
years, and establish themselves in Iceland, nor could the 
most flattering reception at foreign courts abate their inhe* 
rent love of country. Thus King Harald Gormsen could not 
prevail upon Gunnar of Hlidarende to remain at his court, 
although he held out the temptations of a wife and fortune ; 
and hence says Hakon to Finboge Ramme, " That is just 
the way with you Icelanders ! the moment you are valued 
and favoured by princes, you want to get away." When 
the travelled man came home, he was received with the 
greatest attention ; he was instantly sought out at the Al- 
thing, and now he must make a public statement of his 
travels and adventures. The curiosity of Icelanders is 
proverbial, and seems to be in proportion to their distance 
from the continent. If a ship arrived, the people instantly 
ran down to the shore to ask for news, unless the chief of the 
district (Herredsforstanderen) had ruled that he should be 
the first. Thorstein Ingemundson, a hospitable man, who 
lived in the 10th century, looked upon it as the duty of 
every stranger to visit him first : and he was once highly 
exasperated with some strangers, who neglected this cour- 


tesy. When Kiartan, mentioned in the history of Olaf 
Tryggveson, had returned from Norway, and was grieving 
over the infidelity of his betrothed, his father was most dis- 
tressed at the people thus losing the benefit of his stories ; 
and when he was afterwards married, and a splendid wed- 
ding took place on the island, nothing amused the guests 
more than the bridegroom's narratives of his services under 
the great King Olaf Tryggveson. However desirous the 
new comer might be to learn what had happened during 
his absence from home, he was always first obliged to tell 
his countrymen the news from abroad. A remarkable illus- 
tration of this is given in the life of Bishop Magnus, who 
returned from Saxony by Norway (A.D. 1135), just as the 
people were assembled at the Althing, and were loudly 
contending upon a matter, respecting which no unanimity 
could be obtained. A messenger suddenly appears among 
the crowd, and states that the Bishop is riding up. Upon 
this they all become so pleased that they instantly leave the 
court, and the Bishop is obliged to parade on a height near 
the church, and tell all the people what had happened in 
Norway whilst he was abroad ! 

Such a narrative, told by a person of veracity, went from 
mouth to mouth, under the name of the first narrator, 
which was looked upon as a security for the truth of the 


It has thus been shewn how the materials for history had 
been collected in Iceland, and how these materials were 
moulded into the form of narrative by oral tradition : it 
now remains to be seen how the traditions became 
the subjects of written documents, and historical literature 
assumed a definite and permanent form. 

Snorro Sturleson says in the preface to the Heim- 
skringla, that Are Frode (b. 1067, d. 1148) was the first 
who committed to writing, in the northern tongue, his- 
torical narrations both of the present and the past. Soon 
afterwards Ssemund Frode wrote of the Norwegian kings. 
Both these authors finished their works at a late period 
of life, and after the year 1120: hence it has been in- 
ferred that no history was written in Iceland before the 
time of Are Frode, and consequently that such historical 
writing was the fruit of a taste for literature generated by 
the introduction of Christianity. 

This important event occurred in the year 1000. New 
ideas and new writings were now, doubtless, introduced, 
but a considerable time must have elapsed before these 
civilizing effects became general. Christianity was not 
propagated in Iceland by force, but was the r<esult of the 
example of the mother country, the adhesion of individual 
chiefs to the new religion, and the indifference of many to 
the old. No violent persecution was awakeufed against 
the followers of the old idolatry, nor was the influeqce. of 
the new religion upon morals and customs very visible at 
first. Sixteen years had .elapsed from the introduction 
of Christianity, before an injunction from Olaf the Saint, 
forbad the Icelanders to expose their children, and eat 


horse-flesh. The first Bishop (Isleif ) was consecrated in 
1056, but the influence of the priestly character depended, 
like that of the Hofgode in former times, on his personal 
qualities, and the power of his kinsmen. The oligarchy 
checked the growth and influence of the hierarchy. Even 
in the be^ning of the 13th century, interdicts were little 
attended to, and we find the Archbishop of Trondhjem 
so late as A.D. 1213, obliged to shew great indulgence to 
the chiefs, who had cruelly maltreated Bishop Judmund 
Aresen. With Christian worship came also frankincense, 
clerical robes, bells and books. Previous to this, the Ice- 
landers were only acquainted with Runes, Runic stones, 
and Staves, and such small articles, upon which single 
words or sentences were inscribed. Individuals may, 
doubtless^ have met with books, upon or near the island, 
just as Irish books were found there by the first settlers,* 
but so long as Roman letters and the language in which 
they were written were unknown, such books could only 
have been looked upon as foreign novelties. Now the 
priests brought Latin breviaries, and the new alphabet 
could hot be found very diflicult after the use of Runes. 
Fifty years after the introduction of Christianity, Bishop 
Isleif established the first school, which was soon followed 
by many others. The previous state of society had 
awakened a greater taste for reading and knowledge in 
Iceland, than in the rest of the North, and the tranquil 
habits of the people being favourable to the cultivation of 
letters, it was not long before many of them applied them- 
selves ardently to literature. The Kristni Saga relates 
that towards the end of the 1 1th century, there were many 
chiefs so learned that they might have been priests, and 
many were actually appointed to the sacred office. In 
the beginning of the 12th century, Ovid's Epistles and 
AmoTes were read in the schools, and in the course of the 

* See Minor Narratives, Part III. 


same century, we find mention made of many who pos- 
sessed collections of books. 

For some time reading and literature were closely con- 
nected with the new religion. A knowledge of Latin 
letters was acquired in order to sing the Psalter, to which, 
without well understanding it, some magical influence was 
ascribed,'*' and the young priest applied himself to Latin, 
in order that he might becomingly celebrate the Mass. 
For records of daily life, the Icelander needed not the 
foreign character; his Runes afforded him a readier 
medium, and their use was continued for a long period. 
On the other hand an acquaintance with the Latin 
language became of the greatest importance to his whole 
being ; for thus an inexhaustible source of knowledge had 
been opened to him, and the travelling Icelander could 
now, in foreign schools, become endowed with all the 
learning of the age, and by means of Latin books, transfer 
this learning to his own couxi^. Of these, the historical 
were the most congenial to his taste and habits, and the 
annalistic form was best suited to retain the fruits of his 
reading : hence came Icelanders to x;opy, and afterwards 
to compile annals embracing long periods of time, and hence 
to treat Northern history in the same simple manner. 

But peculiar difficulties presented themselves to the 
correct arrangement of these records. Much as had been 
related in Iceland of the events of the past, their chrono- 
logical order was not preserved, and the only guide to this 
indispensable element of history, were the long genealogical 
details of the individuals whose actions were recorded. To 
ascribe these different events to particular years, and 
arrange them in chronological order, required much time, 
trouble and investigation, yet under all these difficulties a 

* How many modern Christians repeat the Psalmodic responses with 
kindred ignorance and superstition ! 



book was completed, which must excite the surprise and 
admiration of all the modem literati. 

This book was written by Are Frode, under the title of 
Book of the Icelanders (Islendingabok) and contained a 
dry and condensed^ but at the same time, well arranged 
and comprehensive view of the most important events in 
the history of the country. It has often been regretted that a 
larger work by the same author has been lost . The former, with 
good reason, was highly prized, for it laid the foundation of 
all northern history, determining many important epochs, 
and shewing their connexion and succession with minor 
events. But Snorro's expression about Are Frode has been 
misunderstood, when he is made to say that Are was the 
first Icelander, who wrote anything historical. Snorro says 
that Are was the first Icelander, who was a historian^ but by 
this he could not mean to say that no one had ever put a 
Saga upon paper before Are Frode ; for this, after Icelanders 
had been educated in schools,, could not be well maintiuned. 

The preceding shows that a number of narratives, thrown 
into an agreeable form, were current throughout Iceland, 
and that these, favoured by a free constitution, were in- 
creased by all the remarkable events that took place either 
in the island, or the neighbouring kingdoms. The transition 
to written documents was now easy and natural : he who 
was accustomed to read and write, and who, perhaps, relied 
less upon his memory than others, was readily led to take 
down in writing that which he was desirous to retain, and 
thus he constructed a Saga. But the writer of such a Saga 
would never think of appending his name to it, and thereby 
seeking the honours of authorship, for he merely wrote 
down what he had heard others say, and exactly as he had 
heard it. Hence are the greater number of Icelandic 
Sagas anonymous ; the date must be determined by the 
contents, and it is very possible that many of these narra- 
tives, such as Vigastyrs and Heidarviga Saga were written 


earlier than the SchedcB of Are Frode. The other principal 
Icelandic historian was Are's friend, Saemund, also sur- 
named Frode, or the learned, whose work on the Norwegian 
kings, from Harald Haarfager to Magnus the Good, is now 
lost: it is quoted less frequently than that of Are, the 
most important events having, probably, been already deter- 
mined by him. 

The peculiar nature of the settlement, and the circum- 
stances under which it had been formed, directed the 
attention of the Icelandic historians of the 1 2th century, 
more particularly to details connected with the colonization 
of the island : the order in which families had become es- 
tablished, their genealogy, territory, how they were allied^ 
&c. ; and the fruit of these enquiries was the celebmted 
Landnamabok. Next to these local matters, came the 
reigns of the two Olafs, of whose achievements many nar- 
ratives were in circulation, and whose zeal in the propaga- 
tion of Christianity caused them to be surrounded with a 
sacred halo. The life of Olaf Tryggveson was written in 
Latin by two monks, named Gunlaug and Odd, who gave 
as authorities the oral relations of men from the middle of 
the same century, at the end of which they wrote ;* their 
labour consisted in little more than translating into Latin, 
and accompanying with a few remarks, that which had been 
communicated to them by others, for both these notices of 
Olafs life shew that neither of the authors related anything 
on his own personal knowledge. About the same period a 
diffiise compilation was made, recording the achievements 
of St. Olaf during his life, and his miracles after his death ; 
this was afterwards employed by Snorro, and his contempo- 
rary Styrmer, but the nature of both these works renders it 
probable that many parts had been already written in de- 
tached narratives before the whole was collected. 

These Uves of the Olafs are, in all probability, the earliest 

• The 12th century. 


regularly arranged written records of a narrative which had 
been orally related, and they form a connecting link be- 
tween historical writing and tradition. The achievements 
of Harald Haarfager, also, which are mentioned in so many 
narratives of the Icelandic colonists, as having been sung by 
so many Skalds^ whose songs were remembered, and which, 
besides, contained events of such great general importance 
to the Icelanders, — were no doubt committed to writing in 
the course of the l'2th century. 

From such lives of individual kings, the Sagas of the 
King$ of Norway could easily be compiled, for just as the 
isolated deeds of an Icelander were put together to form the 
history of his life, and thereto were added the achievements 
of his forefathers and children, so by uniting the lives of 
Harald Haarfager and the two Olafs, a Saga of Norwegian 
Kings was already formed. But he who collected or trans- 
cribed such a history in the 12th century, never thought of 
writing a book, still less of being looked upon as an author ; 
he wrote either because he wished to note down certain 
events, for his own satisfaction, or in order to have a good 
collection of entertaining narratives to relate to his friends. 
Tlie first attempts were naturally imperfect and unequal, 
for the materials were casually collected, and the most dis- 
proportionate brevity and prolixity is to be observed amongst 
them ; but these became better after a time, and only the 
most deserving were eventually transcribed. 

Next to the Olafs, Harald Haardraade was the Norwe- 
gian King who furnished the richest materials to the histo- 
rian, and already during his life time, and with his eogiai- 
zance^ a romantic complimentary Saga, of his residence at \ 
Constantinopley founded upon ' Haldor Snorroson'si. prolix v 
narrative, was in circulation. There was another class of 
Saga which must have led the admirers of the bardic art to 
collect them into a united form; naihely, the celebrated 
mythic Sagas of the Volsunger and Giukunger, whose deeds 



formed the theme of the oldest songs of the Skalds, and 
from whence so many poetical images are taken. No lee- 
lander who either ventured to indite a strophe himself, or 
made any pretensions to poetic taste, could be ignorant of 
these. The Volsunga Saga is supposed to have been 
written either at the end of the 12th or beginning of the 
13th century. 

That the Icelanders who thus^ in the 12th century, com- 
mitted to paper for their own information, the achievements 
of foreign kings, were not unmindful of the transactions of 
their own island, may be easily believed; nor did they &il 
to note down carefully the concerns of their own families 
and the valorous deeds of their kinsmen and forefathers. 
But of these narratives, there was scarcely one that could 
be properly called a book, that is to say, a work published 
for the information of others ; they could only be looked 
upon as records for perisonal use, or echos of the living 
narrative and assistants to its propagation. 

The first real writers of history that Iceland produced— 
those, namely, who collected historical materials, which they 
individually worked out with the view of communicating the 
knowledge of remarkable events to their fellow men^ were 
those who wrote the history of their own times. The first 
of these was Erik Oddson, who, according to Snorro, wrote 
from the testimony of eye-witnesses, and from what he 
himself had learned from Harald Gille and his sons in the 
middle of the 12th century. This book is used by Snorro, and 
still more literally by the author of the MS. Morkinskinna, 
Next to him comes Carl Johnson, who was Abbot of Thin- 
gore Monastery in 1169, and wrote the first part of the 
history of King Sverre, under the personal inspection of the 
monarch himself: the succeeding part was finished by 
Styrmer, in the first half of the 13th century. These 
authors followed exactly the historical style which had been 
formed by oral relation. The circumstance of King Sverre, 


who carefully employed every means of leading public 
opinion in his favour, having sought to influence the Abbot, 
while writing his history, proves that already at that time 
a feeling for literature had been awakened. 

Thus in the 12th century, when the night of ignorance 
and barbarism still hung over the rest of Europe, narratives 
which had previously been transmitted by oral tradition, 
were taken down with the pen, and the writing of books 
was commenced in Iceland. The following century was 
the golden age of Icelandic historical Uterature, for iri that 
age lived Snorro Sturleson.* His mode of writing history 
was to collect the Sagas that had been written before his 
time, to strike out whatever displeased him, make abstracts 
of what he considered too diffuse, and enliven the recital 
by the introduction of a few strophes from the old Skalds. 
He states nothing for which he has not good authority; 
he rejects whatever was too trifling to be consistent with 
the dignity of history, as well as the greater part of those 
legends which several of the copyists have inserted in his 
work : but, on the other hand, he does not pass by a single 

* Son of the wealthy and powerful Chief Sturle Thordson, and Lagman 
or governor of Iceland in 1213. ** His countrymen/' says an eloquent 
writer, " loye to compare him with the most celebrated of the Roman 
orators, to whom both in character and fortune he bore a striking re- 
semblance. Both were called to the highest offices in their native land by 
the voice of their admiring countrymen — ^both amidst the cares and dis- 
tractions of political life, soothed their labours by literature, and won its 
brightest honors from their less busy contemporaries, — both lived at a time 
when the bulwarks of freedom were crumbling into fragments around them, 
— and both, taking an active share in the unnatural conflict, fell victims to 
the BQCcesB of their enemies. Like Cicero, too, Snorro was distinguished 
for his powerful, fervid eloquence, and by his rank, wealth and talents, was 
entitled to the highest place in the state. But his character was stained by 
avarice and ambition, and he is accused of having often failed to perform 
boldly what he had prudently contrived.'' Iceland, Greenland, &c. Ed. 
Cab. Lib. xxviii. pp. 136-6. 



illustrative feature, and has faithfully preserved the lively 
character of the antient Saga. 

Between 1264 and 1271, being some years after Sverres 
Saga had been completed, Sturle Thordson wrote the 
history of Hakon Hakonson, at the instigation of Magnus 
Lagebaeter, and according to the materials which he had 
collected at the Norwegian court. His work is therefore 
to be looked upon as an independent performance, and 
both as regards its comprehensiveness and historical 
arrangement, must be classed amongst the best of the Ice- 
landic historical works. 

The Sagas which embrace that period of time, extending 
from the death of Sverre to the birth of Hakon Hakonson, 
are probably written later than Hakon Hakonson's Saga, 
for as they just fill up the space between these two great 
historical works, the want of this link would not clearly 
appear, until the latter had been completed. The fragment 
which remains of Magnus Lagebaeter's Saga, shews that it 
was intended to continue the series of Royal Narratives, 
but these could scarcely have been of much interest, as no 
MSS. are extant. 

A Jarls Saga was also compiled in the 13th century, 
being a collection of antient Narratives relating to the 
Jarls of the Orkneys, which were united and continued 
under the name of the Orkneyinga Saga. The civil dis- 
turbances in Iceland at this period, were described by 
Sturle Thordson, and beside this many were employed in 
writing Annals. 

In the 16th century, although the decline of learning 
had commenced, much literary activity was still visible in 
Iceland ; but the independent compilation or composition 
of history had ceased, and only a few Bishops Sagas were 
still vmtten. On the other hand copying was carried on 
with great industry, older Sagas were transcribed, the 


Landnamabook completed, and the Kristnisaga^ or de- 
scription of the introduction of Christianity into the 
country, was extracted from the older writings : the copious 
MSS. called Flatbbogen,* still shews with what industry 
individual ecclesiastics collected and transcribed the older 
historical Sagas, towards the end of this century. 


We have now seen how Icelandic historical literature, 
after having blossomed and borne good fruit, began at last 
to wither and decay; and the cause of its origin and bloom, 
leads us also to the cause of its decline and extinction. 
The old state of society had called forth individual ac- 
tion and heroic deeds, and awakened a feeling for their 
representation ; but now the power of the petty chief over 
his Thingmen had become diminished, and the equilibrium 
had been removed from amongst the chieftains themselves. 
Already in the beginning of the 11th century had Gudmund 
the Powerful one hundred servants at his farm, and he was 
accustomed to travel through his district like a petty king, 
with a retinue of thirty men, to judge the disputes of his 
Thingmen. He did not, however, venture to combat the 
general dissatisfaction, caused by the increased expense to 
the individuals where he lodged, which this practice occa- 

* The book of Flat island (Codex Flatevensis) so called from having 
been foond in a monastery on the island of Flato (Flat island) situated 
north of the Breida Fjord in Iceland. It is a vellum MS. containing 
copies of a number of Sagas, executed between 1387 and 1395, and is pre- 
served in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. 


sioned, and eventually contented himself with six attend- 
ants. As long as public opinion had so much weight, die 
voice of the Saga was also influential, but when poweriul 
families intermarried, their influence invariably increased, as 
well as the number of their followers and constituents. In the 
beginning of the 12th century Haflide Marson had a dispute 
with Thorgill Oddeson, and rode to the Thing with 1200 
men, while 700 accompanied his antagonist. No individual 
yeoman could oppose such an armament, either with his 
own force or that of his kinsmen, and the field of domestic 
narrative was therefore reduced from the multiplicity 
of characters and events which the time of the colonists 
brought forth, to the more serious feuds of a few powerful 

From the middle of the 12th century, all power and 
influence was divided between the three warlike sons of 
Sturle — the historian Snorro, Thord, and Sighvat. Ava- 
rice, ambition, and revenge generated implacable hatred 
between these, and brought on the destruction of their race; 
and the history of the independent age of Iceland may be 
said to end with the feuds of this family, which lasted one 
hundred years, and gave to that period the name of " the 
time of the Sturlungers" (Sturlungatiden). Although the 
history of this period has been written in a good style, with 
the greatest accuracy, and rare impartiality by an eye- 
witness and participator in the events— Sturle Thordson; 
notwithstanding the much more important occurrences 
which are here narrated, as compared with the former 
periods, and which, it might therefore be supposed, would 
awaken greater interest, — the Sturlunga Saga does not 
present that attraction to the reader, which is aflbrded by 
the narratives of less important periods. 

Mere numerical force, and not the personal strength or 
ability of the individual now determined the result. The 
question was no longer about defending a cause at the 


Court, but assembling an army ; the old thirst for revenge 
had not vanished^ but honourable feeling had given place to 
treachery, and the power of numbers. No distinguished 
individual appeared whose deeds could awaken sympathy. 
Snorro Sturleson was talented and eloquent, but at the 
same time, ambitious, avaricious, and not very celebrated 
for his personal prowess ; his nephew, Sturle Sighvatson, 
was full of energy, but imperious, violent, and faithless ; 
Kolbein the younger, and Gissur, authors of Snorro's 
murder, were only clever partisans; Thord Kakal, who 
revenged the fall of the Sturlungers, awakened more sym- 
pathy, but he did not possess energy enough either to 
overcome his enemies, or sincerity enough to be recon- 
ciled to them, and hastened the submission of the island to 

The submission of the Icelanders to the sway of the 
Norwegian Kings was a natural consequence of these do- 
mestic dissensions ; there was no end to the wars of the 
chiefs; not a single house, as formerly, was burned down, 
but whole provinces were laid waste. The chiefs them- 
selves, also, looked to Norway for assistance as well as to 
their bishops, who were dependant on the see of Thrond- 
hjem; Hakon Hakonson well knew how to avail himself 
of this internal weakness, and hastening on a crisis, which 
was the necessary consequence of the natural course of 
events, secured the allegiance of the island in 1261. 

Thus did all the noble sentiments, generated by equal 
laws, an independent position, high descent, and intellectual 
endowment, sink beneath the angry and narrow-minded 
conflicts of private interest and personal animosity. Party 
feeling, — that curse of a nation, — fell upon the land ; the 
Norwegian monarch, availing himself of the weakness 
which ever accompanies disunion, accomplished the sub- 

* For a short account of Snorro's death, and the feu«ls of the Sturlunicfers, 
sec Iceland, Greenland, &c.— £d. Cabv Lib. xxviii, p. 134, et scq. 


jection of the island, and as in a more soutiiem and greener 
isle, the intestine dissensions of her own- excited sons, 
affixed the badge of vassalage upon Icels^d ! . » 

What theme could now animate the lyric muse, <w give 
interest and distinction to the annals of the historian?' The 
flame of discord lighted by the chiefs, and fanned into de* 
^tarnctive extension by the Norwegian King, had carried 
with it, the last spark of freedom from the exhausted land, 
and with freedom fled the spirit which had breathed life 
into the songs ot the Skalds, and given force and character 
to the records of the Saga ! 

After a short time t^ Sagias ceased to be produced^ for 
nothing occurred that was* 'worthy of being committed to 
writing ; the dry annalist alOne -could fill his note book with 
the successions of Lagmen or chief nwigistrates, the wed- 
dings of the chiefs, law suits, and solitary deeds of violenee, 
the remnant of the old licentiousness; or more destructive 
still, with details of the ravages of the pestilential, diseases, 
which now spread death and desolation throughout the 
land. ' 

But even more injurious to the historical literature of 
Iceland than these depopulating effects was the taste for 
romance which arose about this period, and weakened the 
feeling for pure history. We have already seen :that ia the 
12th oentury, fabulous or poetical ornament was given to 
historical narrative, in order to increase the gratification, of 
the hearer ; and by such embellished adventures Sturle 
Thordson obtained so much favour with Magnus Lage- 
bseter ; but so long as real acts of heroism were performed, 
and recorded, and the Sagas were connected with the songs 
of tlie Skalds, and the genealogy of families, such narratives 
justiy attained the preference ; it was otherwise, however, 
when the public interest in domestic events had subsided, 
or rather when the altered condition of society produced 
nothing to call it forth, and the romances of chivalry, were 


opened like a new world, before the admiring eyes of Uie 
b:elanders. This was particularly apparent in the reign of 
Hakon Hakonson, by whose orders several of the most 
popular foreign romances were translated into Icelandic. 
To these may be added the copious Vilkina Saga^ a romance 
of Didrik of Bern and his champions, which was, probably, 
written by Icelanders in Bergen, in the ) 4th century, from 
the narratives of Hanseatic merchants. 

The passion for hearing and reading foreign romances 
injured historical literature in two ways : first, by corrupt- 
ing the pure taste for true history ; and secondly, by leading 
many to exaggerate^ and deck out facts with imaginative 
features borrowed from these fables. Public interest in the 
history of the neighbouring countries also ceased to be 
longer entertxdned ; some considerable properties fell to the 
Norwegian crown ; the riches of the chiefs passed away, and 
the island sunk fast into an abject and unimportant condi- 
tion. Joumies to foreign courts, and consequently the 
knowledge of foreign events became more rare ; the com- 
plimentary verses of the subject poet to his monarch were 
naturally less valued than those sung by the travelling bard 
in honour of a stranger king ; they were no longer liberally 
rewarded, and soon both Skald and Sagaman ceased to sing 
and to narrate. With good reason, therefore, does Torfieeus 
observe that Hakon Hakonson, by subjecting Iceland, 
left a larger kingdom to his successors, but at the same 
time, diminished their glory by depriving them of the men 
who could have immortalized their name. 

In the 14th and 15th centuries the voyages of the Ice- 
landers altogether ceased The stranger who landed on 
their coast, unlike the old skipper of wide experience and 
goodly lineage and connexion, was now the paltry trader or 
ordinary seaman from whom little could be learned; and if 
an Icelander went abroad, he found himself a stranger in 
Scandinavia. In the course of the Idth century, the old 


language, by mixture with the Oennan, and a careless 
manner of speaking, had become quite altered in Denmark, 
and the same change appeared in the following centuiy in 
Norway, these two languages becoming nearly similar; so 
that the old Damke Tunge, together with tlie Saga, was no 
longer heard in Scandinavia, while in remote Iceland, the 
ancient songs of the Skalds, and stories of the Sagamen, 
secured its preservation there. 

Tlius separated from the rest of the world, as well by 
Itutiguage as locality, the Icelanders could only gratify their 
taste for reading in the bodu of their own country. The 
value of oral tradition, and therewith its power had gra- 
dually diminished and died away as books and reading be- 
came more general ; but the old supply of true and poetical 
narratives became corrupted by legends of foreign and 
native saints, adventures with ghosts and spirits, and tradi- 
tions from foreign romances, which were written in the 15th, 
16th, and 17th centuries. Meantime the feeling for the 
old Saga was still kept alive by historical songs (Rimar) and 
tiie labours of the genealogist; the latter has been a 
favourite pursuit with Icelanders in all ages, and by these 
means have the principal families been enabled to trace 
their descent from the 10th and 11th centuries, with far 
greater accuracy than the most ancient nobility of the rest 
of Europe. The Rimar had much resemblance to the 
Champion songs (Kaempe viser), traces of which are to be 
found in the Sturlunga Saga, and which were composed in 
great numbers in the following century. Of the seventy- 
eight Icelandic poets that are enumerated by Einarm, as 
having flourished from the Reformation to the end of the 
18th century, the greater number have composed such 
rhymes, and in many of these the old traditions are in- 

In the 16th century still fewer Sagas were written than 
in the l6th, not so much because people began to get 


acquainted with printed works, which took place slowly, 
but because the Refonnation at first operated against the 
reading of Sagas : they were said to contain Popery. 

It was, therefore, fortunate for history that from the 17th 
century the attention of the literati, both in Sweden and 
Denmark, was turned to the importance of Icelandic ma- 
nuscripts. Amgrim Johnson, author of Crymogeea, assisted 
by King Christian IV. of Denmark (1643), collected seve- 
ral of them, and Bishop Brynjulf Svendson sent some' of 
the most important Icelandic codices to Frederic III. 
(1670), who was a zealous promoter of all intellectual ad- 
vancement. The Icelander Rugman who, taken prisoner 
in the wars of Charles X. of Sweden, had awakened the 
attention of the Swedish literati to the literary treasures of 
his own country, was sent to the island in 1661 to purchase 
manuscripts for the Antiquarian Museum of Stockholm, 
and many were afterwards sent thither on the same errand ; 
but Christian V. of Denmark, whose dominion, including 
Norway, extended to Iceland, issued a prohibition in 1685 
against any manuscripts being disposed of to strangers, nor 
was it until the eminent antiquary Professor Amas Mag- 
nussen was placed at the head of a royal commission in 
Iceland, which carried on its labours with unwearied assi- 
duity from 1702 to 1712, that the remaining manuscripts 
were collected and lodged in the libraries of Copenhagen . 




&asa of ertft tfit UtH^ 

The first important document that appears in 
Professor Rafh's collection, is the Saga or narrative 
of Erik the Red, the first settler in Greenland. 
This manuscript forms part of the celebrated Flato- 
bogen, or Codex Flateyensis,* and the language, 
construction, and style of the narrative, together 
with other unerring indications, prove it to have 
been written in the 12th century. A facsimile of 
this, as well as of the other principal manuscripts, 
is appended to the Antiquitates AMERiCANiE. 

Although the main object of the writer of this 
narrative appears to have been to enumerate the 
deeds and adventures of Erik and his sons, short 
accounts are also given of the discoveries of suc- 
ceeding voyagers, the most distinguished of whom 
was Thorfinn Karlsefne; but as a more detailed 
narrative of the discoveries of this remarkable per- 
sonage, is contained in the manuscript entitled the 
Saga of Thorfinn Karlsefne, which is also 
translated, the following selections are principally 
confined to the voyages of Erik and his immediate 

* See Introduction, page zzxvii. 

ftasa of <5rtft the Uttf, 


A, D. 986. 

Thorvald hight a man, a son of Osvald, a son 
of Ulf-Oxne-Thorersson. Thorvald and his son 
Erik the Red removed from Jaeder* to Iceland, in 
consequence of murder. At that time was Iceland 
colonized wide around.t They lived at Drange on 
Homstrandj there died Thorvald. Erik then 
married Thorhild, the daughter of JsBrunda and 
Thorhjorg Knarrarhringa, who afterwards married 
Thorbjom of Haukadal. 

Then went Erik northwards, and lived at Erik- 
stad near Vatshom. The son of Erik and Thor- 
hild hight Leif. But after Eyulf Soers and Rafii 
the duellistst murder, was Erik banished from 
Haukadal, and he removed westwards to Breidaf- 
jord, and lived at Oexney at Erikstad. He lent 

* S. W. coast of Norway. 

t Iceland was colonized by Ingolf, a Norwegian, in 874. The discovery 
of the island has been erroneously given to Nadodd in 862, but Finn Mag- 
nusen and Rafu have shewn that it had been previously visited by Gardar, 
a Dane of Swedish descent about the year 860, and was first called Gardars- 
holm (Gardar*s island), nor can the arrival of Nadodd, who called it Snee- 
land (Snowland) be fixed at an earlier period than 864. See Gronland's His- 
toriske Mindesmserker, Vol. I. p. 92-97. But both the Norwegian and 
Swedo-Dane must give place to the Irish monks, who, it will be shewn, 
visited and resided in Iceland nxty-five years before the discovery of Gar- 
dar. See Minor Narratives, Part III. of this volume. 

X Holmgaog Rfifn. See Introduction, p. vi. 



A. D. 086. 

3. Herjulf was the son of Bard Herjulfson ; he 
was kinsman to the colonist* Ingolf. To Herjulf 
gave Ingolf land between Vog and Reykjaness.t 
Herjulf lived first at Drepstock ; Thorgerd hight 
his wife, and Bjarni wus their son, a very hopefiil 
man. He conceived, when yet young, a desire to 
travel abroad, and soon earned for himself both 
riches and respect, and he was eveir se«ond winter 
abroad, every other at home with his father. Soon 
possessed Bjarni his own ship, and the last winter 
he was in Norway, Herjulf prepared for a voyage 
to Greenland with Erik. In the ship with Herjulf 
was a Christian from the Hebrides,^ who made a 
hymn respecting the whirlpool,§ in which was the 
following verse : — 

O thou who triest holy men ! 

Now guide me on my way. 
Lord of the earth's wide vault, extend 

Thy gracious hand to me ! 

Herjulf lived at Herjulfsness j he was a very re- 
spectable man. Erik the Red lived at Brattahlid ; 
he was the most looked up to, and every one regulated 
themselves by him. These were Erik's children : 
Leif, Thorvald and Thorstein, but Freydis hight 
his daughter; she was married to a man who 

* Landnamsman, see Introduc. p. vi. 
t S. W. point of Iceland. 
\ Sudreyskr madr kristinn. 

§ Hafgerdingar, described by an antient Icelandic writer as a dangerous 
pass in the Greenland ocean. — Antiq. Amer. p. 18, note a. 


Thorvard hight ; they lived in Garde, where is 
now the Bishop's seat ; she was very haughty, hut 
Thorvard was narrow-minded j she was married to 
him chiefly on account of his money. Heathen 
were the people in Greenland at this time. Bjami 
came to Eyrar with his ship the summer of the 
same year in which his father had sailed away in 
spring. These tidings appeared serious to Bjami, 
and he was unwilling to unload his ship. Then his 
seamen asked him what he would do ; he answered 
that he intended to continue his custom, and pass 
the winter with his father : " and I will,'* said he, 
** bear for Greenland if ye will give me your com- 
pany/' All said that they would follow his counsel, 
ITien said Bjarni : " Imprudent will appear our 
voyage since none of us has been in the Greenland 
ocean.'' • However, they put to sea so soon as they 
were ready, and sailed for three days,* until the 
land was out of sight under the water ; but then 
the fair wind fell, and there arose north winds and 
fogs, and they knew not where they were, and thus 
it continued for many days. After that saw they 
the sun again, and could discover the sky ; they 
now made sail, and sailed for that day, before they 
saw land, and counselled with each other about 
what land that could be, and Bjami said that he 
thought it could not be Greenland. They asked 
whether he wished to sail to this land or not. 
"My advice is,*' said he, "to sail close to the 
land ;" and so they did, and soon saw that the 

♦ Thrja daga. 

E 2 


land was without mountains, and covered with 
wood, and had small heights. Then left they the 
land on their larhoard* side, and let the stern turn 
from the land. Afterwards they sailed two dayst 
before they saw another land. They asked if 
Bjami thought that this was Greenland, but he 
said that he as little believed this to be Greenland 
as the other : ** because in Greenland are said to 
be very high ice hills." They soon approached the 
land, and saw that it was a flat land covered with 
wood. Then the fair wind fell, and the sailors 
said that it seemed to them most advisable to land 
there ; but Bjami was unwilling to do so. They 
pretended that they were in want of both wood and 
water. " Ye have no want of either of the two,** 
said Bjarni ; for this, however, he met with some 
reproaches from the sailors. He bade them make 
sail, and so was done ; they turned the prow from 
the land, and, sailing out into the open sea for three 
days,;}: with a south-west wind, saw then the third 
land; and this land was high, and covered with 
mountains and ice-hills. Then asked thev whether 
Bjami would land there, but he said that he would 
not : ** for to me this land appears little inviting/* 
Therefore did they not lower the sails, but held on 
along this land, and saw that it was an island; 
again turned they the stem from the land, and 
sailed out into the sea with the same fair wind ; 
but the breeze freshened, and Bjami then told them 
to shorten sail, and not sail faster than their ship 

• Bakborda. t Tvo deegr. t Thijli d»gr. 


and ship's gear could hold out. They sailed now 
four days,* when they saw the fourth land. Then 
asked they Bjami whether he thought that this 
was Greenland or not. Bjarni answered : ** This 
is the most like Greenland, according to what I 
have been told about it, and here will we steer for 
land.*' So did. they, and landed in the evening 
under a ness ; and there was a boat by the ness, 
and just liere lived Bjami's father, and from him 
has the ness taken its name, and is since called 
Herjulfsness. Bjarni now repaired to his father's, 
and gave up seafaring, and was with his father so 
long as Herjulf lived, and afterwards he dwelt there 
after his father. 

Such is the simple detail of the first voyage of the North- 
men to the western hemisphere, and Professor Rafn shews 
that there are sufficient data in the antient Icelandic geo- 
graphical works, to determine the position of the various 
coasts and headlands thus discovered by Bjarni Herjulfson. 
A day*s sail was estimated by the Northmen at from twenty- 
seven to thirty geographical miles, and the knowledge 
of this fact, together with that of the direction of the wind, 
the course steered, the appearance of the shores, and other 
details coutained in the narrative itself, together with the 
more minute description of the same lands given by suc- 
ceeding voyagers, — leave no doubt that the countries thus 
discovered by Bjami Herjulfson, were Connecticut, Long 
Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, 
and Newfoundland, and the date of the expedition is 
determined by the passage in the preliminary narrative 
which jSxes the period of HerjulPs settlement at Herjulfsness 
in Iceland. (See p. 49.) 

* Fjdgur daegr. 


It may, perhaps, be urged in disparagement of these 
discoveries that they were accidental, — that Bjami Her- 
julfson set out in search of Greenland, and fell in with the 
eastern coast of North America ; but so it was, also, with 
Columbus. — The sanguine and skilful Genoese navigator 
set sail in quest of Asia,* and discovered^ the West Indies; 
even when in his last voyage, he did reach the eastern 

* ** He set it down as a fundamental principle that the earth was a ter- 
raqueous globe, which might be travelled round from east to west, and that 
men stood foot to foot when on opposite points. The circumference from 
cast to west, at the equator, he divided according to Ptolemy, into 24 hooiB 
of 15 degrees each, making 360 degrees. Of these he imagined, comparing 
the globe of Ptolemy with the earlier map of Marinus of Tyre, that 16 hours 
had been known to the antients, extending from the Canary or Fortunate 
Islands, to the city of Thinse in Asia, the western and eastern extremities 
of the known world. The Portuguese had advanced the eastern discovery 
one hour more by the discovery of the Azore and Cape de Verde Islands : 
still about eight hours, or one third of the circumference of the earth, re- 
mained to be explored. This space he imagined to be occupied in a great 
measure by the eastern regions of Asia, which might extend so far as to 
approach the western shores of Europe and Africa. A navigator, therefore, 
by pursuing a direct course from east to west, must arrive at the extremity 
of Asia, or discover any intervening land. The great obstacle to be appre- 
hended was from the tract of ocean that might intervene ; but this could not 
be very wide, if the opinion of Alfraganus the Arabian were admitted, who 
by diminishing the size of the degrees, gave to the earth a smaller circum- 
ference than was assigned to it by other cosmographers ; a theory to which 
Columbus seems, generally, to have given much faith. He was forti6ed, 
also, by the opinion of Aristotle, Seneca, Pliny, and Strabo, who considered 
the ocean but of moderate breadth, so as that one might pass from Cadiz 
westward to the Indies in a few days." — Life and Voyages of Christopher 
Columbus by Washington Irving, Fam. Lib. No. XI. p. 14, 16. 

*' The great argument which induced him to his enterprise was the one 
first cited ; namely, that the most eastern part of Asia known to the an- 
tients could not be separated from the Azores by more than a third of the 
circumference of the globe ; that the intervening space must, in a great 
measure, be filled up by the unknown residue of Asia ; and that, as the 
circumference of the world was less than was generally supposed, the Asiatic 
shores could easily be attained by a moderate voyage to the west*'*— 
lb, p. 18. 


shore of Central America, he still believed it to be Asia, 
and continued under that impression to the day of his 
death.* Besides, how dijSerent were the circumstances 
under which the two voyages were made ? The North- 
men, without compass or quadrant, without any of the ad- 
vantages of science, geographical knowledge, personal ex- 
perience, or previous discoveries, — without the support of 
either kings or governments, — which Columbus, however 
discouraged at the outset, eventually obtained, — but guided 
by the stars, and upheld by their own private resources, and 
a spirit of adventure which no dangers could deter — cross 
the broad northern ocean, and explore these distant lands ! 
Columbus, on the other hand, went forth with all the advan- 
tages of that grand career of modem discovery which had 
been commenced in the preceding century, and which, under 
Prince Henry of Portugal, had been pushed forward to an 
eminent position in the period immediately preceding his 
first voyage.f 

* '* With aU the visionary feryour of his imagination, its fondest dreams 
fell short of reality. He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his dis- 
coyery. Until his last hreatb, he entertained the idea that he had merely 
opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had disco- 
vered some of the wild regions of the East. He supposed Hispaniola to be 
the antient Ophir, which had been visited by the ships of King Solomon, 
and that Cuba and Terra Firma were but remote parts of Asia,** — Irving's 
Columbus, Fam. Lib. No. XI. p. 853. 

, '' He imagined that the vast stream of fresh water which poured into the 
gulph of Paria, issued from the fountain of the tree of life, in the midst of 
the Garden of Eden."— lb. p. 219. 

** He fancied that he had actually arrived at the Aurea Chersonesus, from 
whence, according to Josephus, the gold had been procured for the building 
of the Temple of Jerusalem.*'— lb. p. 291. 

t '' Prince Henry called in the aid of science to dispel these errors* He 
established a Naval College and observatory at Sagres, and invited thither 
the most eminent professors of the nautical faculties. The effects of this 
establishment were soon apparent. A vast improvement took place in maps 
and charts ; the compass was brought into more general use ; the Portu- 
guese marine became signalised for its hardy enterprises ; Cape Bojador 


The compass had been discovered and brought inim 
general use; maps and charts had been constructed; as- 
tronomical and geographical science had become more 
diffused, and the discoveries of the African coast from Cape 
Blanco to Cape de Verde, together with the Cape de 
Verde and Azore Islands, had produced a general exdte* 
ment amongst all who were in any way connected witih a 
maritime life, and filled their minds with brilliant images 
of fairer islands and more wealthy shores amidst the bound- 
less waters of the Atlantic* It should also be recollected 
that Columbus, ever ready to gather information from 
veteran mariners, had heard of land seen far to the west of 
Ireland and of the island of Madeira ; had been assured 
that, four hundred and fifty leagues east of Cape St. Vin- 
cent, carved wood, not cut with iron instruments, had 
been found in the sea, and that a similar fragment, toge- 
ther with reeds of an immense size, had drifted to Porto 
Santo from the west : added to this, was the fact of huge 
pine trees, of unknown species, having been wafted by 
westerly winds to the Azores, and human bodies of won- 
drous form and feature cast upon the island of Flores-f 

was doubled ; the region of the tropics penetrated and divested of its fan- 
cied terrors ; the greatest part of the African coast from Cape Blanco to Cape 
de Verde, explored, and the Cape de Verde and Azore islands discovered." — 
Irviug*s Columbus, p. 9. 

* '' It was a period of general excitement with all who were connected 
with maritime life, or who resided in the vicinity of the ocean. The recent 
discoveries had inflamed their imaginations, and had filled them with Ideas 
of other islands of greater wealth and beauty, yet to be discovered in the 
boundless wastes of the Atlantic." — lb. p. 12. 

t '' Columbus was attentive to every gleam of information bearing upon his 
theory, that might be derived from veteran mariners, and the Inhabitants of 
the lately discovered islands, who were placed, in a manner, on the frontier 
posts of geographical knowledge. One Antonio Leone, an inhabitant of 
Madeira, told him, that in sailing westwards one hundred leagues, he had 
seen three islands at a distance. A mariner of Port St. Mary, also asserted, 
that in the course of a voyage to Ireland, he had seen land to the west^ 


Nor should it be forgotten that Columbus visited Iceland 
in 1477,* when, having had access to the archives of the 

which the ship's company took for some extreme part of Tartary. One 
Martin Vicenti, a pilot in the senrlce of the King of Portugal, assured Co- 
Iambus that, after sailing 450 leagues to the west of Cape St Vincent, he 
had taken firom the water a piece of carved wood, evidently not laboured 
with an iron instrument. As the wind had drifted it ftom the west, it might 
have come from some unknown land in that direction. Pedro Correo, 
brother-in-law of Columbus, also informed him, that he had seen a similar 
piece of wood, on the island of Porto Santo, which had drifted from the 
same quarter, and he had heard from the King of Portugal, that reeds of an 
immense size, had floated to those islands from the west, which Columbus 
supposed to be the kind of reeds of enormous magnitude described by 
Ptolemy as growing in India, Trunks of huge pine trees, of a kind that 
did not grow upon any of the islands, had been wafted to the Azores by 
westerly winds. The inhabitants also informed him that the bodies of two 
dead men had been cast upon the island of Flores, whose features had caused 
great wonder and speculation, being different from those of any known race 
of people." — Irving's Columbus, p. 17. 

• " While the design of attempting the discovery in the west was ma- 
turing in the mind of Columbus, he made a voyage to the northern seas, to 
the island of Thule, to which the English navigators, particularly those of 
Bristol, were accustomed to resort on account of its fishery. He even ad- 
vanced, he says» one hundred leagues beyond, penetrated the polar circle, 
and convinced himself of the fallacy of the popular belief, that the frozen 
zone was uninhabitable. The island thus mentioned by him as Thule is 
generally supposed to have been Iceland." — lb. p. 20. 

According to Mr. Irving's larger work, this visit took place in February, 
1477, when Columbus appears to have observed with surprise that the 
sea was not frozen. A striking confirmation of this circumstance is 
mentioned by Finn Magnusen as having been found appended to an 
authentic public document, which came out at Eyafjord in the north part 
of the island, early in the month of March of the same year, and which 
states that '' no snow was then seen upon the ground." (pd var snjolaus jord) 
The same learned Icelander directs attention to the following remarkable 
coincidence : — In the year 1477, Magnus Eiolfson was Bishop of Skalholt 
in Iceland ; since 1470, he had been Abbot of the Monastery of Helgafell, 
the place where the oldest documents relating to Green]and,Vinland, and the 
variousparts of America discovered by the Northmen, had been written, and 
where they were, doubtless, carefully preserved, as it was from this very dis- 
trict that the most distinguished voyagers had gone forth. These documents 
must have been well known to Bishop Magnus, as were their general con- 


island, and ample opportunity of conversing with the 
learned there, through the medium of the Latin language, 
he might easily have obtained a complete knowledge of the 
discoveries of the Northmen : sufficient at least, to confirm 
his belief in the existence of a western continent. How 
much the discoveries of the distinguished Genoese navigator 
were exceeded by those of the Northmen, will appear from 
the foUowing narratives. 

tents throughout the island, and it is therefore in the highest degree im- 
prohable that Columbus^ whose mind had been filled with the idea of 
exploring a western continent since the year 1474, should haye omitted to 
seek for and receive information respecting these early voyages. He ar- 
rived at Hvalfjord, or Hvalfjardareyri, on the south coast of Iceland, at a 
time when that harbour was most frequented, and it is well known that 
Bishop Magnus visited the neighbouring churches in the spring or summer. 
See Nord. Tidsk. f. Oldkynd. B. 2. p. 129. Om de Engelskes Handel og 
FsBrd paa Island i det 15 de Aarhundrede, isser med Hensyn til Columbus's 
formeentlige Reise dertil i Aaret 1477, og bans Beretninger desangaaende, 
ved Finn Magnusen. 

No mention has been made here of the supposed voyages of the Zeni in 
the 14th century, which a modern historian has enumerated amongst the 
causes of encouragement to the views and projects of Columbus (Hist, of 
Maritime and Inland Discovery, Vol. I. p. 221-225), for although these voy- 
ages are said to have been made in the 14th century, no account of them was 
published until 1558, more than fifty years after the death of Columbus ! 
and the whole story has been clearly shewn by an acute Danish writer, to 
have been a compilation from faulty geographical works and vague reports, 
mixed up with the most palpable inconsistencies, anachronisms, and fable. 
See Bemserkninger over de Yenetianeme Zeni tilskrevne Reiser i Norden, 
af C. C. Zahrtmann. Capitain-lleutenant, ap. Nord. Tid. f. Oldkynd. 
B. 2. p. 1. 




A.D. 094. 


The next thing now to be related is, that Bjami 
Herjulfson went out from Greenland, and visited 
Erik Jarl,» and the Jarl received him weU. Bjami 
told about his voyages, that he had seen unknown 
lands, and people thought that he had shown no 
curiosity, when he had nothing to relate about 
these countries, and this became somewhat a matter 
of reproach to him. Bjami became one of the Jarl's 
courtiers, and came back to Greenland the summer 
after. There was now much talk about voyages of 
discovery. Leif, the son of Erik the Red, of Brat- 
tahlid, went to Bjami Herjulfson, and bought the 
ship of him, and engaged men for it, so that there 
were thirty-five men in all. Leif asked his father 
Erik to be the leader on the voyage, but Erik 
excused himself, saying that he was now pretty well 
stricken in years, and could not now, as formerly, 
hold out all the hardships of the sea. Leif said 
that still he was the one of the family whom good 
fortune would soonest attend j and Erik gave in to 
Leif s request, and rode from home so soon as they 
were ready ; and it was but a short way to the ship. 
The horse stumbled that Erik rode, and he fell off, 

* Erik, Jarl (Earl) of P^orway. This is supposed by Rafn to have happened 
in the year 994. — Antiq. Amer. p. xxix. 


and bruiBed his foot. Then said Erik, ^' It is 
not ordained that I should discover more countries 
than that which we now inhabit^ and we should 
make no further attempt in company." Erik went 
home to Brattahlid, but Leif repaired to the ship^ 
and his comrades with him, thirty-five men. There 
was a southern* on the voyage, who Tyrker hight 
Now prepared they their ship, and sailed out into 
the sea when they were ready, and then found that 
land first which Bjarni had found last. There sailed 
they to the land, and cast anchor, and put ofi^ boats, 
and went ashore, and saw there no grass. Great 
icebergst were over all up the country, but like a 
plain of flat stonesi: was all from the sea to the 
mountains, and it appeared to them that this land 
had no good qualities. Then said Leif, ** We have 
not done like Bjarni about this land, that we have 
not been upon it ; now will I give the land a name, 
and call it Helluland.''§ Then went they on 

* Sadrmadr, supposed to mean a Qerman, as the terms Sudrmenn and 
Thydverskirmenn are ased promiscuously to distinguish the natives of 
Germany, by old northern writers. Antiq. Amer. p. 28, note a. 

t Joklar miklir. t Sem ein hella. 

§ From Hella, a flat stone. The coast of Newfoundland is thus de- 
scribed by the German writer Anspach : Die Insel Newfoundland offenbartsich 
in seltsamer Wunderbarkeit, als ob die Natur sich in regellosem Schaffen in 
der Darstellnng Erstaunen weekender Denkmahler ihrer machtergotzt hatte 
— Was von dem Innem der lusel bekannt ist, besteht aus felsigtem diirrem 
Boden,steilen Hiigeln,mit verkruppeltem Holtze bedeckt, einigen engensan* 
digen Thalern, und welt ausgedehnten Haide Ebenen, oder kahlen, mehr oder 
minder verbreiteten Felsenflachen too "kein Baum, nicht einmal em gegtraueh 
gedeihtf und die man daher Barren (Barrens) nennt.'* Gcschichte und 
Beschreibung von Newfoundland und der KUste Labrador von C. A. Anspach. 
ap. Antiq. Amer. pp. 421-2. 


board, and after that sailed out to sea, and found 
another land; they sailed again to the land, and 
cast anchor, then put off boats and went on shore. 
This land was flat, and covered with wood, and 
white sands* were far around where they went, and 
the shore was low.t Then said Leif, " This land 
shall be named after its qualities, and called Mark- 
landJ (woodland,)" They then immediately re- 
turned to the ship. Now sailed they thence into 
the open sea, with a north-east wind, and were 

^ Tida vast tract of land is extremely barren, and altogether incapable of 
coltiyation. The surface is everywhere uneven, and covered with Uxrge 
itaneSf some of which are of amazing dimensions. There is no such thing 
as level land." Particulars of Labrador. — Phil. Transac. Vol. LXIV. 
p. 374-5, ap. Antiq. Amer. pp. 419-20. 

" The most lofty perpendicular precipices rise to an amazing height upon 
the north side, and the southern shore only appears less striking in its 
attitude from the summit of the opposite rocks." — '* The summit of this 
majestic headland (Cape Brogle) was now (14th June) covered with snow." 
Voyage of His Mijesty's ship Rosamond to Newfoundland and the southern 
coast of Labrador, by Lieut. Edward Chappell, R.N., Lond. 1818, pp. 41-60, 
ap. Antiq. Amer. p. 422. 
* Sandar hvitir. 
t Oseebratt. 

t " The land about the Harbour of Halifax, and a little to the southward 
of it, is, in appearance, rugged and rocky, and has on it, in several places, 
scrubby withered wood. Although it seems bold, yet it is not high." 
Columbian Navigator, Vol. I. P. i. p. 17. '' The land is low in general, 
and not visible twenty tniles off, except from the quarter-deck of a seventy- 
four. Apostogon Hills have a long level appearance. Between Cape le 
Have and Port Medway, the coast to tJie seaward being level and low, and 
the shores with white rocks, and low barren points ; from thence to Shel- 
bome and Port Roseway are woods. Near Port Haldimand are several 
barren places, and thence to Cape Sable, which makes the S. W. point into 
Barrington Bay, is a low woody island, at the S. £. extremity of a range of 
sandy d\ff^s, which are very remarkable at a considerable distance in the 
offing."— New North American Pilot, Lond. 1815, P. ii. p. 1-6, ap. Antiq. 
Amer. p. 423. 


two days* at sea before they saw land, and they 
sailed thither and came to an island which lay to 
the eastward of the land,t and went up there, 
and looked round them in good weather, and 
observed that there was dew upon the grass ; and it 
so happened that they touched the dew with their 
hands, and raised the fingers to the mouth, and 
they thought that they had never before tasted any 
thing so sweet. 

This island appears to have been Nantucket, where 
honey dew is known to abound, j; and Helluland and Mark- 
land are clearly shewn by Professor Rafn, on the authority 
of modem voyagers and hydrographers, the chief of whom 
are quoted in the preceding notes— to be Newfoundland 
and Nova Scotia. The narrative continues : — 

After that they went to the ship, and sailed into 
a sound, vrhich lay between the island and a ness 
(promontory), which ran out to the eastward of the 
land ; and then steered westwards past the ness. 
It was very shallow^ at ebb tide, and their ship 
stood up, so that it was far to see from the ship to 
the water. 

The statement of shoal water in this sound corresponds 
exactly with the description of the passage between Nan- 

• 2 dsBgr. 

t Literally " northward of the land/' (nordr af landinu,) hut the Editor 
shows that the Northmen placed this point of the compass nearly in the 
position of our east." — Antiq. Amer. p. 428. 

t See communication from Dr. Wehb, Secretary to the Rhode Island 
Historical Society. Antlq. Amer. p. 443. 

§ Grunnssefui mikit. 


tucket and Cape Cod, or the peninsula of Barnstable, as 
given in the Columbian Navigator.* 

But so much did they desire to land, that they 
did not give themselves time to wait until the water 
again rose under their ship, but ran at once on 
shore, at a place where a river flows out of a lake : 
but so soon as the waters rose up under the ship, 
then took they boats, and rowed to the ship, and 
floated it up to the river, and thence into the lake, 
and there cast anchor, and brought up from the 
ship their skin cots,t and made there booths. J 

From these details, it is evident that Leif and his com- 
panions shaped their course through Nantucket Bay, be- 
yond the south-western extremity of the peninsula of Cape 
Cod ; thence across the mouth of Buzzard's Bay to Sea- 
CONNET Passage, and thus up the Pocasset River, to 
Mount Hope Bay, which they seem to have taken for a 

After this took they counsel, and formed the 
resolution of remaining there for the winter, and 

* « The eastern entrance is impeded by numerous riffs and other shoals^ 
as are likewise the central and western parts, and the whole presents an 
aspect of drowned lands, which, there can be little doubt, were, at some 
period, anterior to history, connected with the main." — p. 72. See Antiq. 
Amer. p. 425. 

t J91fi4^f, fh>m h&d, skin, and fat, a case or covering, being strictly 
q[>eaking, a skin bag or pouch, in which the antients were accustomed to 
keep tiieir clothes and other articles on a journey : the same was used for a 
bed on ship-board, as appears in the Laxdseila Saga, p. 116, where Tliwrid 
says ''htm gekk at MdfaH pvl, er Geirmundr svaf i"— " she went to the couch^ 
where Gteirmund slept." It thus answers to the ftter of the Romans and 
tfrffafiaTodtfTfufi of the Greeks. Antiq. Am. p. 31. 
''t Biidir. f. pi. oihkdy from &6a, to remain or inhabiti hence, probably, 
the Eog. booth. ^ 


built there large houses.* There was no want of 
salmon either in the river or in the lake, and 
larger salmon than they had before seen.t The 
nature of the country was, as they thought, so good, 
that cattle would not require house feedingj in 
winter, for there came no frost in winter, and little 
did the grass wither there. Day and night were 
more equal than in Greenland or Iceland, for on 
the shortest day, was the sun above the horizon 
from«t seven in the forenoon tiU half-past 
four in the afternoon^ 

* Hus mikil. 

t '^ The salmon (Salmo Salar) is met with a little farther to the eastward 
of us, and was formerly found in onr waters." — Dr. Webb, Sec. Rhode 
Island Hist. Soc. ap. Antiq. Am. p. 367. 

t Fodr. 

§ ** Sol hafdi dar eyktarstad ok dagmalastad um skamdegi." The mis- 
conception of this passage by Torfeeus, who was followed by Wormskiold, 
Malte Brun, and others led to an error as to the locality of Vinland which 
is ably exposed by Professor Rafo in a long and lucid note in explanation of 
the Icelandic terms. Antiq. Amer. p. 435. note b. The subject has been 
further elucidated in an interesting article " On the Antient Scandinayians' 
division of the time of the day/' by Finn Magnusen, published in the 
Memoirs of the Society of Northern Antiquaries, by which it appears that : — 

The antient Scandinavians divided the heavens or the horizon into 8 
grand divisions, and the times of the day according to the sun's apparent 
motion through these divisions, the passage through each of which they 
supposed to occupy a period of three hours. The day was therefore divided 
into portions of time corresponding with these 8 divisions, each of which 
was called an eyht, signifying an eighth part. This eykt was again divided, 
like each of the grand divisions of the heavens, into two smaller and equal 
portions, called stund or maZ. In order to determine these divisions of 
time, the inhabitants of each place carefully observed the diurnal course of 
the sun, and noted the terrestrial objects over which it seemed to stand. 
Such a natural or artificial object was called in Iceland dagtmark (day- 
mark). They were also led to fix these daymarks by a division of the 
horizon according to the principal winds, as well as by the wants of their 
domestic economy ; the shepherd's rising time, for uistancc, was called 


This would give very nearly the latitude of Mount 
Hope Bat, which locality is previously pointed out by the 
details relating to the soil and climate, and fully corres- 
ponds with the descriptions of modem travellers : ^^ Les 
paturages^" says Warden, ^^sont beaux en general, etplus 
partieulierement au pays de Narraganset. Le pays de 
South-Kingston, pres de la cote de la mer et de la bale de 
Narraganset, est tr^s fertile, et d'un bon rapport. Ce sol 
est form6 d'un terreau profond et d une petite partie de sable 
et de gravier ; et la temperature est si douce que la vegeta-- 
turn souffre rarement dufroid ou de la secheresse/' Of 
Rhode Island he says; — '^Onlappelle te paradis de 
FAmeriqite^TCG qu'elle emporte sur les autres lieux par 

Hirdis risnUU, which corresponds with half past 4 o'clock, a. k. and this 
was the beginning of the nataral day (dsgr) of 24 hours. Reckoning from 
the hirdis rismdl, the eighth stund or eighth half eykt terminated exactly 
at half-past 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and therefore this particular period 
was called tear* e^oxv^ eykt. This eykt, strictly speaking, commenced at 
3 o'<dock p. M. and ended at half-past 4 p. m. when it was said to be in 
eyktargtadr, or the termination of the eykt. The precise moment that the 
sun appeared in this place, indicated the termination of the artificial day 
(dagr) and half the natural day (dseg^), and was therefore held especially 
deserving of notice : the hours of labour, also, are supposed to have ended 
at this time. Six o'clock A. m. was called Midr morgun ; half-past 7 A. K. 
Dagmdl', 9 A. m. Daffverdarmdl, &c. Winter was considered to commence 
in Iceland about the 17th October, and Bishop Thorlaoius, the calculator of 
the Astronomical Calendar, fixes sunrise in the South of Iceland on the 17th 
October, at half-past 7 A. m. At this hour, according to the Saga, it rose 
in Yinland on the shortest day, and set at half-past 4 p. m. which data fix 
the latitude of the place at 4lo 43' 10'% being nearly that of Mount Hopb 
Bay.^ — See Antiq. Amer. pp. 436—8, M^moires de la Soci6t6 Royale de^ 
Antiquaiies du Kord 183&-1837, p. 165, and Dial of the antient Northmen 
in Appendix. Professor Rafn makes the latitude from the above data 
4lo 24' 10" [Antiq. Amer. p. 436], but if, as is to be presumed, the obser- 
vation was made, when the sun had completely risen, and his lower edge 
appealed to tooeh the horizon, it could not be less than 41<> 43' 10''; how- 
ever^ the difference is unimportant, as regards the locality, for nothing more 
than an approximation to the correct latitude of the place, could be ex- 
pected from the rude method of calculating time, which was then practised 
Ij the Northmen. 




sa situation son sol et son climat."* The German historian 
Ebeling offers equally favourable testimony,f and Hitch- 
cock's scientijBc Report of the State of Massachusetts fully 
accords with these. 

But when they had done with the house building, 
Leif said to his comrades : — " Now will I divide our 
men into two parts, and have the land explored, 
and the half of the men shall remain at home at 
the house, while the other half explore the land ; 
but however, not go further than that they can 
come home in the evening, and they should not 
separate/' Now they did so for a time, and Leif 
changed about, so that the one day he went with 
them, and the other remained at home in the 
house. Leif was a great and strong man, grave 
and well favoured, therewith sensible and nqioderate 
in all things. 


2. It happened one evening that a man of the 
party was missing, and this was Tyrker the German. 

* Description des Etats Unis de TAm^rique Septentrionale, Paris, 1820, 
T. 1, pp. 499—603, ap. Antiq. Amer. pp. 439—40. 

t '' An der See ist der Winter meisten theils mild, und nur yon knrzer 

Dauer, daher auch der Schnee nie lange liegen bleibt Man halt das 

hiesige klima fur das geaiindeste in ganz Nordamerika, weswegen viele 
krankliche Personen aus den siidlichen Staaten im Sommer nach den hiesigen 
Inseln kommen, um sich zu erholen.—- Das Land hat einen Ueberfluss von 
nahrhaften Grasarten und Futterkrautem, und sosdexlieh fihid in dem 
ehemaligen Gebiete von Narraganset die Tortrefflichsten Triften.^ — Erd- 
bescreibung und Qeschlchte von America, B. 2, p. 4-12. A long and highly 
interesting reply to enquiries instituted by Professor Hafh on this subject, 
from Dr. Webb, Secretary to the Rhode Island Historical Society, contains 
similar evidence of the fertility of the soil and salubrity of the climate. 
See Antiq. Amer. p. 368. 


This took Leif much to heart, for Tyrker had been 
long with his father and him, and loved Leif much 
in his childhood. Leif now took his people se- 
verely to task, and prepared to seek for Tyrker, 
and took twelve men with him. But when they had 
gotten a short way from the house, then came 
Tyrker towards them, and was joyfully received. 
Leif soon saw that his foster-father was not in his 
right senses. Tjrrker had a high forehead, and 
unsteady eyes, was freckled in the face, small and 
mean in stature, but excellent in all kinds of arti- 
fice. Then said Leif to him : J* Why wert thou so 
late my fosterer, and separated from the party?'' 
He now spoke first, for a long time, in German, and 
rolled his eyes about to different sides, and twisted 
his mouth, but they did not understand what he 
said. . After a time he spoke Norsk.* " I have not 
been much further off, but still have I something 
new to tell of; I found vines and grapes." ** But 
is that true, my fosterer ?*' quoth Leif. ** Surely is 
it true," replied he, " for I was bred up in a land 
where there is no want of either vines or grapes." 
They slept now for the night, but in the morning, 
Leif said to his sailors : " We will now set about 
two things, in that the one day we gather grapes, 
and the other day cut vines and fell trees, so 
from thence will be a loading for my ship," and 
that was the counsel taken, and it is said their 

* NorrcBnu, i. e. the northern tongue (Donsk ttinga) being the language 
then common to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, and part 
of Britain. Antiq. Amer. p. 85. 

F 2 


long boat was filled with grapes. Now was a cargo 
cut down for the ship, and when the spring came, 
they got ready, and sailed away, and Leif gave the 
land a name after its qualities, and called it 


It appears by a communication from Dr. Webb, Secre- 
tary to the Rhode Island Historical Society, which is ^ven 
in that part of Professor Rafn's work, entitled Monumentum 
vetustum in Massachusetts^ that wild grape vines of several 
varieties, as well as maize or Indian com, and other escu- 
lents, were found growing in that district, in great profu- 
sion, when it was first visited by the Europeans. Hence 
the name of Vinland (Vineland), given to the country by 
Leif, a name mentioned by Adam of Bremen,* Torfaeus 
and Wormius, as well as by Pinkerton and Malte Brun, as 
designating a country frequently visited by the Northmen, 
Hence also the modem name of Martha's Vineyard given 
to the neighbouring island ; and in the adjoining province 
of Connecticut, Warden states that ** La vigne sauvage 
grimpe de tous c6t^s sur les arbres/'f The narrative con- 
tinues : — 

They sailed now into the open sea, and had a fair 
wind until they saw Greenland, and the mountains 
below the joklers. Then a man put in his word and 
said to Leif: "Why do you steer so close to the 
wind ?'* Leif answered : " I attend to my steering, 

* '' Preeterea unam adhuc regionem recitavit (Sveinn Uifflson king of 
Denmark) u multis in eo repertam oceano, quae dicitur Win land, eo qaod 
ibi viles sponte ncucantur vinum optimum ferentes ; nam et finges ibi rum 
seminaicu habundare, non fabulosa opinione, sed certa comperimus relatione 
Danorum/' Adam Brem. Descriptlo de situ DanisB et reliquarum, qu«B 
trans Daniam sunt, regponum. ap. Antiq. Amer. p. 338. 

t II. p. Id. I. p« 456. ap. Antiq. Amer. p. 441. 


and something more, and can ye not see any 
thing ?'* They answered that they could not observe 
any thing extraordinary. " I know not," said Leif, 
" whether I see a ship or a rock.*' Now looked 
they, and said it was a rock. But he saw so much 
sharper than they, that he perceived there were 
men upon the rock. ** Now let us,'* said Leif, 
" hold our wind, so that we come up to them, if 
they should want our assistance ; and the necessity 
demands that we should help them ; and if they 
should not be kindly disposed, the power is in our 
hands, and not in their's." Now sailed they under 
the rock, and lowered their sails, and cast anchor, 
and put out another little boat, which they had with 
them. Then asked Tjrrker who their leader was ? 
He called himself Thorer, and said he was a North- 
man; "but what is thy name?'* said he. Leif 
told his name. "Art thou a son of Erik the Red, 
of Brattahlid ?*' quoth he. Leif answered that so 
it was. " Now will I," said Leif, " take ye all on 
board my ship, and as much of the goods as the 
ship can hold." They accepted this oflfer, and 
sailed thereupon to Eriks^ord with the cargo, and 
thence to Brattahlid, where they unloaded the ship. 
After that, Leif invited Thorer and his wife Gudrid, 
and three other men to stop with him, and got 
berths for the other seamen, as well Thorer 's as 
his own, elsewhere. Leif took fifteen men from the 
rock : he was, after that, called Leif the Lucky. 
Leif had now earned both riches and respect. The 
same winter came a heavy sickness among Thorer*s 



people, and carried off as well Thorer himself as 
many of his men. This winter died also Erik the 
Red. Now was there much talk about Leif s voy- 
age to Vinland, and Thorvald, his brother, thought 
that the land had been much too little explored. 
Then said Leif to Thorvald : ** Thou can'st go with 
my ship, brother! if thou wilt, to Vinland, but I 
wish first that the ship should go and fetch the 
timber, which Thorer had upon the rock ;" and so 
was done. 


A.D. 1002. 

3. Now Thorvald made ready for this voyage 

with 30 men, and took counsel thereon with Leif 

his brother. Then made they their ship ready, 

and put to sea, and nothing is told of their voyage 

until they came to Leif s booths in Vinland. There 

they laid up their ship, and spent a pleasant 

winter,* and caught fish for their support. But in 

the spring, said Thorvald, that they should make 

ready the ship, and that some of the men should 

take the ship's long boat round the western part of 

the land, and explore there during the summer. 

To them appeared the land fair and woody, and 

but a short distance between the wood and the sea, 

and white sands; there were many islands, and 

much shallow water. They found neither dwellings 

* A.D. 1002— 1003. 


of men or beasts, except upon an island, to the 
westward, where they found a corn-shed of wood,* 
but many works of men they found not ; aud they 
then went back and came to Leif s booths in the 
autunm. But the next summer,t went Thorvald 
eastward with the ship, and round the land to the 
northward. Here came a heavy storm upon them 
when off a ness, so that they were driven on shore, 
and the keel broke off from the ship, and they re- 
mained here a long time, and repaired their ship. 
Then said Thorvald to his companions : " Now will 
I that we fix up the keel here upon the ness, and 
call it Keelness (Kjalamess),t and so did they. 
After that they sailed away round the eastern shores 
of the land, and into the mouths of the friths, 
which lay nearest thereto, and to a point of land 
which stretched out, and was covered all over with 
wood. There they came to, with the ship, and 
shoved out a plank§ to the land, and Thorvald 
went up the coimtry, with all his companions. He 
then said : " Here is beautiful, and here would I 
like to raise my dwelling." Then went they to the 
ship, and saw upon the sands within the promoii- 
tory, three elevations, || and went thither, and saw 
there three skin boats (canoes),^ and three men 
imder each. Then divided they their people, and 
caught them all, except one, who got away with his 

* Kornbjdlm af tr6, from Itorn^ corn, and J^cdnvr, a covering, hence helmet- 
shedy which signification al90 obtains in the Danish language. Antiq. Amer. 
p. 41, note a. t A. D. 1004. 

% ^e Map of Vinland, Plate I. $ Bryggjum. 

II Hsedir. % Hudkeipa. 


boat. They killed the other eight, and then went 
back to the cape, and looked round them, and saw 
some heights inside of the frith, and supposed that 
these were dwellings. After that, so great a drow- 
siness came upon them, that they could not keep 
awake, and they all fell asleep» Then came a shout 
over them, so that they all awoke. Thus said the 
shout : ** Wake thou I Thorvald I and all thy 
companions, if thou wilt preserve life, and return 
thou to thy ship, with all thy men, and leave the 
land without delay." Then rushed out from the 
interior of the frith, an innumerable crowd of skin 
boats, and made towards them. Thorvald said 
then: "We will put out the battle-skreen, * and 
defend ourselves as well as we can, but fight little 
against them." So did they, and the Skraelingst 
shot at them for a time, but afterwards ran away, 
each as fast as he could. Then asked Thorvald his 
men if they had gotten any wounds ; they answered 
that no one was wounded. " I have gotten a wound 
under the arm,'* said he, " for an arrow fled be* 
tween the edge of the ship and the shield, in under 
my arm, and here is the arrow, and it will prove a 
mortal wound to me. Now counsel I ye, that ye 

* Vigfleka, from vig battle, ondfleH orflaH flat luid broad, hence a shield 
made of large planks of wood. 

t Skrselingar. Various definitions have. been giyen of this term, some 
authors attributing it to the low stature of the Esquimaux, who are also 
called SnuBlingar (diminutive men) by Icelandic authors, and others de- 
ducing it from skrcsla to make dry, in allusion to their withered appearance. 
The word akrai^a to cry out« has also been given as the etymology of the 
terpi, froni their habit of shouting. Antiq. Amer. p. 45. note a.. 


get ready instantly to depart, but ye shall bear me 
to that cape, where I thought it best to dwell ; it 
may be that a true word fell from my mouth, that I 
should dwell there for a time ; there shall ye bury 
me, and set up crosses at my head and feet, and 
call the place Krossaness* for ever in all time to 
come/' Greenland was then Christianized, but 
Erik the Red died before Christianity was intro- 
duced. Now Thorvald died, but they did all things 
according to his directions, and then went away, 
and returned to their companions, and told to each 
other the tidings which they knew, and dwelt there 
for the winter, and gathered grapes and vines to 
load the ship. But in the springt they made 
ready to sail to Greenland, and came with their 
ship in EriksQord, and could now tell great tidings 
to Leif. 

* This appears to have been Cape or Point Aldbrton, which is thus 
described by Hitchcock : — " Supposing the traveller to start, as before, ft-om 
Boston, the long and narrow neck of land connecting the settlement of Hull 
with the mainland, must not be past unvisited. To say nothing of the rocks, 
which, at the head of this beach, constitute almost the entire surface, 
rivalling our Cape Ann in this respect, and which, on the shore, present a 
remarkable anid elegit variety of colours, the beach itself, not less than four 
or five miles in extent, is much more interesting than that leading to Nahant. 
The light house, and the Brewster, and other islands in view, as one ad- 
vanced towards Hull, are picturesque objects; and then the pleasant and 
sunny situation of the little village of Hull, furnishes a convenient resting 
place for the traveller." Laurie and Whittle's sailing directions also make 
mention of *' a remarkable grove of trees" at this point, as does the Duke of 
Saze Weimar in his American travels. Antiq. Amer. p. 431. 

t A. D. 1006. 



A. D. 1005. 


4. Meantime it had happened in Greenland, that 
Thorstein in EriksQord married Gudrid, Thorb- 
jbm's daughter, who had been formerly married to 
Thorer the Eastman,* as is before related.t Now 
Thorstein Erikson conceived a desire to go to Vin- 
land after the body of Thorvald his brother, and he 
made ready the same ship, and chose great and 
strong men for the crew, and had with him 25 men, 
and Gudrid his wife. They sailed away so soon as 
they were ready, and came out of sight of the land. 
They drove about in the sea the whole summer, 
and knew not where they were j and when the first 
week of wintert was past, then landed they in Ly- 
se^ord in Greenland, in the western settlement. 
Thorstein sought shelter for them and procured 
lodging for all his crew ; but he himself and his 
wife were without lodging, and they, therefore, re- 
mained some two nights in the ship. Then was 
Christianity yet new in Greenland. Now it came to 

* Austmadr. Such were the NorwegianB often called by the Icelanders, 
Norway lying to the east of their island. Antiq. Amer. p. 47, note a. 

t Namely, in the lost Saga before mentioned called " Erik's Ss^," see 
p. 48. 

t Whilst the Julian calendar, introduced after Christianity, was iu use 
amongst the Icelanders, they considered winter to commence about the 
17th October. Finn Magnusen ap. Mem. des Antiq. du Nord. 1836-1837, 
p. 179. 


pass one day that some people repaired, early in the 
momingy to i^eir tent, and the leader of the party 
asked who was in the tent. Thorstein answered : 
" Here are two persons, hut who asks the ques- 
ti(m ?" ** Thorstein is my name," said the other, 
add I am called Thorstein the black, but my busi- 
ness here is to bid ye both, thou and thy wife, to 
come and stop at my house." Thorstein said that 
he would, talk the matter over with his wife, but 
she told him to decide, and he accepted the bidding. 
" Then will I come after ye in the morning with 
horses, for I want nothing to entertain ye both ; 
but it is very wearisome at my house, for we are 
there but two, I and my wife, and I am very 
morose ; I have also a different religion £rom yours, 
and yet hold I that for the better which ye have." 
Now came he after them in the mommg with 
horses, and they went to lodge with Thorstein the 
black, who shewed them every hospitality. Gudrid 
was a grave and dignified woman, and therewith 
sensible, and knew well how to carry herself among 
strangers. Early that winter came sickness amongst 
Thorstein Erikson's men, and there died many of 
his people. Thorstein had coffins made for the 
bodies of those who died, and caused them to be 
taken out to the ship, and there laid ; *' for I will," 
said he, ^^ have all the bodies taken to Eriksfjord in 
the summer." Now it was not long before the 
sickness came also into Thorstein's house, and his 
wife, who hight Grimhild took the sickness first ; 
she was very large, and strong as a man, but still 


did the sickness master her. And soon after that^ 
the disease attacked Thorstein Erikson, and they 
hoth lay ill at the same time, and Grimhild, the 
wife of Thorstein the black, died. But when she 
was dead, then went Thorstein out of the room, 
after a plank to lay the body upon. Then said 
Gudrid : " Stay not long away, my Thorstein V 
he answered that so it should be. Then said 
Thorstein Erikson : " Strangely now is our house- 
mother* going on, for she pushes herself up on 
her elbows, and stretches her feet out of bed, and 
feels for her shoes/' At that moment came in the 
husband Thorstein, and Grimhild then lay down, 
and every beam in the room creaked. Now Thor- 
stein made a coffin for Grimhild's body, and took 
it out, and buried it ; but although he was a large 
and powerful man, it took all his strength to bring 
it out of the place. Now the sickness attacked 
Thorstein Erikson and he died, which his wife 
Gudrid took much to heart. They were then all in 
the room ; Gudrid had taken her seat upon a chair 
beyond the bench, upon which Thorstein, her hus- 
band, had lain ; then Thorstein the host took Gudrid 
from the chair upon his knees, and sat down with her 
upon another bench, just opposite Thorstein's body. 
He comforted her in many ways, and cheered her 
up, and promised to go with her to Eriks^ord, with 
her husband's body, and those of his companions ; 
" and I will also," added he, "bring many servants 
to comfort and amuse thee." She thanked him. 

• Htisfreyju 


Then Thorstein Erikson sat himself up on the 
bench, and said : " Where is Gudrid ?" Three 
times said he that, but she answered not. Then 
said she to Thorstein the host : ** Shall I answer 
his questions or hot ?'* He counselled her not to 
answer. After this, went Thorstein the host across 
the floor, and sat himself on a chair, but Gudrid 
sat upon his knees, and he said : " What wilt thou 
Namesake ?'* After a little he answered : " I wish 
much to tell Gudrid her fortune, in order that she 
may be the better reconciled to my death, for I 
have now come to a good resting place ; but this 
can I tell thee, Gudrid ! that thou wilt be married 
to an Icelander, and ye shall live long together ; 
and have a numerous posterity, powerful, distin- 
guished, and excellent, sweet and well favoured ; 
ye shall remove from Greenland to Norway, and 
from thence to Iceland ; there shall ye live long, 
and thou shalt outlive him. Then wilt thou go 
abroad, and travel to Rome, and come back again 
to Iceland, to thy house ; and then will a church 
be built, and thou wilt reside there, and become a 
nun, and there wilt thou die." And when he had 
said these words, Thorstein fell back, and his 
corpse was set in order, and taken to the ship. 
Now Thorstein the host kept weU all the promises 
which he had made to Gudrid ; in spring* he sold 
his farm, and his cattle, and betook himself to the 
ship, with Gudrid, and all that he possessed ; he 
made ready the ship, and procured men therefor, 

♦ A, D. 1006. 


and then sailed to EriksQord. The bodies were 
now buried by the Church. Gudrid repaired 
to Leif in Brattahlid, but Thorstein the black made 
himself a dwelling at EriksQord, and dwelt there 
so long as he lived, and was looked upon as a very 
able man* 

This prophetic announcement of Thorstein Erikson is 
highly characteristic of thb superstition of the times, and 
although pertaining to the marvellous, is not the less cor- 
roborative of the authenticity of the narrative. " Such 
incidents,*' says Sir Walter Scott, "make an invariable 
part of the history of a rude age, and the chronicles which 
do not afford these marks of human credulity, may be 
grievously suspected as being deficient in authenticity/** 

* AlMtraet of Eyrbyggia Saga, Miscell. Prose works, Vol. t. p. 965. This 
interesting abstract first appeared in '' Uhistrations of Northern Antiqui- 
ties," 4to. Edinb. 1814, a work of high value and great promise, but which 
the want of pabMc support compelled the distinguished compilers and anti- 
quaries Jamieson and Weber, to discontinue. 


From thb Hbimskbikgla, or History op the Norwboxam Kings, 
According to thb 2nd Ybllum Codbx of thb ARNJB-MAGiriBAN 
Collection, No. 45, Folio. 


The same winter* was Leif, the son of Erik the 
Red, with King Olaf, in good repute, and embraced 
Christianity. But the summer that Gissur went 
to Iceland, King Olaf sent Leif to Greenland, in 
order to make known Christianity there j he sailed 
the same summer to Greenland. He found, in the 
sea, some people on a wreck, and helped them ; the 
same time discovered he Vinland the Good, and 
came in harvest to Greenland. He had with him 
a priest, and other clerks, and went to dwell at 
Brattahlid with Erik, his father. Men called him 
afterwards Leif the Lucky ; hut Erik his father 
said, that these two things went one against the 
other, inasmuch as Leif had saved the crew of the 
ship, hut brought evil menf to Greenland, namely 
the priests. 

* A. D. 99d— 1000, Antiq. Amer. p. 191, note b. 
t Sksemanninn. 


From thb History of Olaf Trtggvason, Chap. 231 , 2nd Vblluh 
CoDBX OF Arna-Magnaan COLLECTION, No. 61, 54, 53. Folio. 


The same spring* sent King Olaf, as is before 
related, Gissur and Hjelte to Iceland. Then sent 
the king also Leif Erikson to Greenland, to make 
known Christianity there. The king gave him a 
priest, and some other holy men, to haptize the 
people there, and teach them the true faith. Leif 
sailed that summer to Greenland ; he took up in the 
sea, the men of a ship, which was entirely lost, and lay 
a complete broken wreck ; and on this same voyage 
discovered he Vinland the Good, and came in the 
end of the summer to Greenland ; and went to live 
at Brattahlid with Erik his father. People called 
him afterwards Leif the Lucky, but Erik his father 
said that these two things went against each other, 
smce Leif had assisted the crew of the ship, and 
saved them from death, and that he had brought 
injurious men (so called he the priests) to Green- 
land; but still, after the counsel and instigation 
of Leif, was Erik baptized, and all the people in 

* A. D. 1000, Antiq. Amer. 103, note b. 

Ssma of ^tiorfttin W^avl^tfnt 



ftaga of SttotfCnn Katlsiefiir^ 

Next in importance and interest to the Saga of 
Erik the Red, is that of Thorfinn, with the sig- 
nificant surname of Karlsefne, i. e. destined to 
become a great man. This distinguished individual 
was a wealthy and powerful Icelandic merchant, 
descended from an illustrious line of Danish, Swe- 
dish, Norwegian, Irish, and Scottish ancestors, 
some of whom were kings, or of royal blood. The 
narrative of his exploits is taken from two antient 
Icelandic MSS. not previously known to the literati, 
and one of which, there is every reason to believe, 
is a genuine autograph of the celebrated Hauk 
Erlendson, who was Lagman or Chief Governor of 
Iceland in 1295, and one of the compilers of the 
Landnamabok : he was also a descendant of Karl- 
seftie in the ninth generation. This very remarkable 
Saga forms part of the Arnae-Magnaean collection, 
and besides short notices of the discoveries of the 
earlier voyagers, which are more fully described in 
the Saga of Erik the Red, gives detailed accounts 
of voyages to, and discoveries in America, carried on 
by Karlsefne and his companions for a period of 
three years, commencing in IOO7. Some discre- 
pancies and misnomers appear in those parts of 
the narrative, which treat of the personages and 


events recorded in the preceding Saga, but thoy 
are only such as to preclude all suspicion of con- 
federacy or fraud on the part of the writers, as all 
the main facts are substantially the same in both ; 
and the circumstance of the Saga of Erik having 
been written in Greenland, while that of Karlsefne 
was written in Iceland, is sufficient to account for 
these variations. The same circumstance, also, 
renders the former the best authority in all matters 
of detail connected with Greenland, while the other 
must be considered more correct respecting occur- 
rences relating to Iceland. These diffiBrencos arc 
pointed out in the notes, and where any minor 
points of interesting detail connected with the 
voyage of Karlsefne appear in the Saga of Erik the 
Red, while they are absent in Karlsefnc's Saga, 
they have been supplied from that of Erik, the in- 
terpolation being pointed out. 

TorfaBUs imagined that the Saga of Thorfinn 
Karlsefiie was lost, and the only knowledge he had 
of its contents, was derived from some corrupt ex- 
tracts contained in the collection of materials for 
the history of antient Greenland, left by the Iw.- 
landic yeoman Bjom Johnson of Skardso. 



Jbaga of Stiotfinn 9tarls;efne« 



Concerning Thord op Hopda. 

I . !• 

TuoRD hight a man who lived at .Hofda iui 
Hofda strand ; be rmaj^wd. Fridgepdgi, daughter of 
T|ipj;pf tHyma and Fridgerdar daughter of Kjarval» 
kipg of^Jthe Irish,;^ ^TThord^jyas the son of Bjarni 
Byrdiismjor, sonpf ,Thprvald flLyg, son of Asleik, 
son of Bjarni Jarnsid, son of Ragnar Lodbrok. 
They had a son called Snorri ; he married Thor- 
hild Rjupa, daughter of Thord Gellar j their son 
was Thord Hesthbfdi. Thorfinnn Karlsefne 
hight Thord's son j Thorfinn's mother hight 
Thorum. Thorfinn took to trading voyages, and 
was thought an able seaman and merchant. One 
summer Karlseftie fitted out his ship, and purposed 
a voyage to Greenland. Snorri Thorbrandson, of 
Alptefjord, went with him, and there were forty men 
in the ship. There was a man hight Bjarni Gri- 
molfson, of BreidaJ^^''^ ; another hight Thorhall 
Gamlason, an EastQordish man ; they fitted out 
their ship the same summer for Greenland : there 
were also forty men in the ship. Karlsefiae and 

* Ira konang. 


the others put to sea with these two ships, so soon 
as they were ready. Nothing is told ahout how 
long they were at sea, but it is to be related that 
both these ships came to EriksQord in the autumn.* 
Erikt rode to the ship together with several of the 
inhabitants, and they began to deal in a friendly 
manner. Both the ship's captains:j; begged Erik 
(Leif) to take as much of the goods as he wished ; 
but Erik (Leif) on his side, shewed them hospi- 
tality, and bade the crews of these two ships home, 
for the winter, to his own house at Brattahlid. 
This the merchants accepted, and thanked him. 
Then were their goods removed to Brattahlid ; 
there was no want of large out-houses to keep the 
goods in, neither plenty of every thing that was 
required, wherefore they were well satisfied in the 
winter. But towards Yule Erik (Leif) began to be 
silent, and was less cheerful than he used to be. 
One time turned Karlsefne towards Erik (Leif) 
and said : " Hast thou any sorrow, Erik, my friend? 
people think to see that thou art less cheerful than 
thou wert wont to' be ; thdu hasit entertained us 
with the greatest sjilendout*,' and We ' at^e ' bound 
to return it to thee ' with *]iilfeh'' services W we 

• A. D.iooa 

t This 18 eTid<*Dtly a mimomer Uinmgbout the Saga, and should be 
LBiVy who was Dtiw In possession of the paternal estate, his fiith'er RHk 
haTuig died, as stated in the fonner narratiTe^ the winter after Leifs retttm 
from Vinland (1001), and conseqnently, fire years pre^ioos to the erents 
recorded here. Hie Saga of Erik the Bed, it must be recollected, appears to 
have been written in Greenland, and that of Thoriinn Karlscrfne, in 
ledand, which will account for this and other dj*crepancies between the 
two narratives. % Styrimenn. 



can command; say now, what troubles thee?" 
Erik (Leif) answered : "Ye are friendly and thank- 
ful, and I have no fear as concerns our intercourse, 
that ye will feel the want of attention ; but, on the 
other hand, I fear that when ye come elsewhere it 
will be said that ye have never passed a worse Yule 
than that, which now approaches, when Erik the 
Red entertained ye at Brattahlid, in Greenland/' 
** It shall not be so. Yeoman I"* said Karlsefoe ; 
* ' we have in our ship, both malt and com ; take as 
much as thou desirest thereof, and make ready a 
feast as grand as thou wilt!" This Erik (Leif) 
accepted, and now preparation was made for the 
feast of Yule, and this feast was so grand that peo- 
ple thought they had hardly ever seen the like pomp 
in a poor land. And after Yule, Karlsefoe dis- 
closed to Erik (Leif) that he wished to marry 
Gudrid, for it seemed to him, as if he must have 
the power in this matter. Erik answered favour- 
ably, and said that she must follow her fate, and 
that he had heard nothing but good of him ; 
and it ended so that Thorfinn married Thuridf 
(Gudrid), and then was the feast extended : and 
their marriage was celebrated ; and this happened 
at Brattahlid, in the winter. 

* Bondi. 

t The daughter of Thorbjorn is sometimes called Thurid and sometimes 
Gudrid, in this narrative; and the Editor thinks it probable that she was 
called by the former name during childhood, but that, afterwards, for reli- 
gious reasons, the pagan name (derived from the God Thor) was laid 
asidc^ and that of Gudrid adopted in its place. Antiq. Amer. p. 136, 
note a. 



A.D. 1007. 

7. In Brattahlid began people to talk much 
about, that Vinland the Good should be explored, 
and it was said that a voyage thither would be par- 
ticularly profitable by reason of the fertility of the 
land ; and it went so far that Karlsefiie and Snorri 
made ready their ship to explore the land in the 
spring. With them went also the before-named 
men hight Bjami and Thorhall, with their ship. 
There was a man hight Thorvard ; he married 
Freydis, a natural daughter of Erik the Red ; he 
went also with them, and Thorvald the son of Erik,* 
and Thorhall who was called the hunter ;t he had 
long been with Erik, and served him as huntsman 
in summer, and steward in winter ; he was a large 
man, and strong, black and like a giant, silent and 
foul-mouthed in his speech, and always egged out 
Erik to the worst ; he was a bad Christian ; he was 
well acquainted with uninhabited parts, he was in 
the ship with Thorvard and Thorvald. They had 
the ship which Thorbjorn had brought out [from 

* Here is again evidently some confusion of names, as Thorvald Erikson's 
death has been previously related in the Saga of Erik the Red, and Karl- 
sefoe was now married to his widow Gudrid : it seems probable that some 
other Thorvald accompanied Karlsefne on this voyage. See Antiq. Amer. 
Preefatio, p. ziv. 1 Veidimadr. X Eggjadl. 


Iceland]. They had in all 160 men,* when they 
sailed to the western settlement, and from thence to 
Bjanney. Then sailed they two daysf to the 
south ; then saw they land, and put off boats, 
and explored the land, and found there great 
flat stones, J many of which were 12 ells broad : 
foxes were there. They gave the land a name, 
and called it Helluland.§ Then sailed they two 
days, II and turned from the south to the south- 
east, and found a land covered with wood, and 
many wild beasts upon it ; an island lay there out 
from the land to the south-east ; there killed they 
a bear, and called the place afterwards Bear 
island,^ but the land Markland. Thence sailed 
they^feir to the southward along the land, and came 

* Literally '* 40 men and a hundred'' [40 manna oh hundrad] but the 
great or long hundred must be understood, consisting of 12 decades, or 120. 
Antiq. Amer. p. 137, note b. Thus Tegner, describing the drinking hall of 
Frithiof: — 

" Ei femhundrade man [til tio tolfter pi hundrat] 

Fyllde den rymliga sal, nar de samlats att dricka om Julen/' 

FrithlofsSagalll.p. 18. 

Not five hundred men (though ten twelves you count to the hundred). 
Could fill that wide hall, when they gathered to banquet at Yule. 

t 2 Osegr. t Hellur storar, see ante, p. 60, note §. 

§ The whole of the northern coast of America, west of Greenland, was 
called by the antient Icelandic geographers Helluland it Mikla, or Great 
Helluland ; and the island of Newfoundland simply Helluland, or Litla 
Helluland. See Plate II. and Antiq. Amer. p. 419. || 2 Deegr. 

IT Bjanney, from JBjom a bear, gen. bjamar, and ey island; hence 
Bjamey contracted from Bjarnarey ; but the common pronunciation of the 
latter is Bjadney or Bjanney. Antiq. Amer. p. 188, note c. This would 
appeals to have been Cape Sable Island on the S. coast of Nova Scotia, but 
the same name was also given by the Northmen to the present island of 
Disco. See supra, and Antiq. Amer. pp. 413 — 424. 


to a ness ; the land lay upon the right ; there 
were long and sandy strands. They rowed to land, 
and found there upon the ness, the keel of a ship, 
and called the place Kjalarness,* and the strands 
they called Furdustrands,! for it was long to sail 
hy them. Then became the land indented with 
coves ;:j; they ran the ship into a cove. King Olaf 
Tryggvason had given Leif two Scotch people, a 
man hight Haki, and a woman hight Hekja ; they 
were swifter than beasts. These people were in the 
ship with Karlsefiie ; but when they had sailed 
past Furdustrands, then set they the Scots on shore, 
and bad them run to the southward of the land, 
and explore its qualities, and come back again 
within three days.§ They had a sort of clothing 
which they called kjafal,|| which was so made that 

* Se ante, Saga of Erik the Red, p. 71. 

t Furdustrandir, from farda, gen. furdu, wonderful, and etrond, pi. 
strandir, beach. This name seems to have been given to the eastern shores 
of the peninsula of Barnstable or Cape Cod, including Nauset, Chatham, 
and Mouomey beach, and to have had its origin either in the remarkably 
white sands mentioned by Hitchcock, or in a natural phenomenon, thus de- 
scribed by the same author : — '' In crossing the sands of the Cape, I noticed 
a singular mirage or deception. In Orleans, for instance, we seemed to be 
ascending at an angle of three or four degrees ; nor was I convinced that 
such was not the case, until turning about, I perceived that a similar ascent 
appeared in the road just passed over.'* — Antiq. Am. p. 427. 

t V^gskorid. § 3 Daegr. 

II A remarkable similitude is pointed out by the Editor between this term 
and the Anglo-Saxon word ceaval, by which the Greek KOipivog, (a basket,) 
is rendered in the (Gospel of St. Matthew, c. xiy. v. 20, and St. Mark, c. vi. 
Y. 45,) Anglo-Saxon version of the Bible. From the different inflections of 
the word given by Professor Rafn, namely, cavl, caul, couuel, — in con- 
junction with the description in the text, it seems also probable that the 
English word cowl is derived from the same source. Antiq. Amer. p. 140, 
note a. 


a hat was on the top, and it was open at the sides, 
and no arms to it ; fastened together between the 
legs, with buttons and clasps, but in other places it 
was open. They staid away the appointed time, 
but when they came back, the one had in the hand 
a bunch of grapes,* and the other, a new sowen ear 
of wheat if these went on board the ship, and after 
that sailed they farther. They sailed into a frith ; 
there lay an island before it, round which there 
were strong currents, therefore called they it Stream 
island.;]: There were so many eider ducks§ on the 
island, that one could scarcely walk in consequence 
of the eggs. They called the place Stream-frith. |i 
They took their cargo from the ship, and prepared 
to remain there. They had with them all sorts of 
cattle. The country there was very beautiful. 
They undertook nothing but to explore the land. 

• Vinbeija kongul. 

t Hveitiax njrsdid. This was, no doubt, the maize or Indian corn, — 
the " fruges non seminatas" of Adam of Bremen, — ^which, as well as beans, 
pumpkins, and squashes, were found growing in the State of Massachusetts, 
when first visited by the whites. See Report of Rhode Isl. Hist. Soc. 
Antiq. Amer. p. 368. 

t Straumey. 

§ " £ine ausserordentliche menge von wilden Gansen und Enten, unter 
welchen der Eider vogel auf den unbewohnten Inseln hauflg ist." Ebeling. 
Gescbich. v. Amer. vi. p. 210. • 

II Straumfjord and Straumey, from atraumr a current, ey island, and jQFonJ 
frith, the former appears to have been Buzzard's Bay, and the island that of 
Martha's Vineyard, then probably united to Nantucket. The strong currents 
clearly denote the great ^' Gulph stream,'' which, rushing from the Gulph 
of Mexico, with impetuous force, passes between Cuba and the southern 
point of East Florida, where, turning northward, it shapes its course between 
the eastern continent and the Bahama isles, until changed again to the 
eastward by the shoals of Nantucket, it is finally lost among the extended 
barrens of Newfoundland. 


They were there for the winter without having pro- 
yided food beforehand. In the sununer the fishing 
declined, and they were badly off for provisions ; 
then disappeared Thorhall the huntsman. They 
had previously made prayers to God for food, but 
it did not come so quick as they thought their 
necessities required. They searched after Thorhall 
for three days,* and found him on the top of a 
rock ; there he lay, and looked up in the sky, and 
gaped both with nose and mouth, and murmured 
something; they asked him why he had gone 
there j he said it was no business of theirs ; they 
bade him come home with them, and he did so. 
Soon after, came there a whale, and they went 
thither, and cut it up, and no one knew what sort 
of whale it was j and when the cook dressed it, 
then ate they, and all became ill in consequence.t 

* 3 Deegr. There seems to be considerable ambiguity about the Icelandic 
words dagr and dcsgrf which are arbitrarily used to express either the 
natural day of 24 hours, or the artificial day of 12 hours. Throughout this 
and the preceding narrative, d(Bgr is considered by the Editor to mean the 
artificial day, and dagr the natural day, hence 2 d<Bgr is rendered *'a 
day and night" [Dan. *' en Dag og en Nat" — Lat. " noctem diemque"] 
and 3 dcBgr, " three half natural days" (36 hours) [Dan. ** tre halve 
Dogn.'' Lat. " tria nychthemerium."] But in a subsequent narrative : — 
(Oe Ario Mario Filii, Antiq. Amer. p. 211,) we find VI dcsgr rendered, in 
the Danish version " 6 Dogn,** and, in^ the Latin, " sex dierum," thus ap- 
plying the word d(Bgr to the natural day of 24 hours. Finn Magnusen, 
also, expressly states that the artificial day was called dagrt and the natural 
day d(Bgr. See Mem. de la Soc. Roy. des Antiq. du Nord. 1836-1837, 
p. 165. 

t This whale was probably a species of the Balsena phy sails of Linnaeus, 
which was not edible, and being rarely seen in the Greenland and Iceland 
8«a8, was unknown to the Northmen. A kind of whale called Balsena mys- 
tioetus is mentioned by Ebeling, as having been formerly found on the 
coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, re-visiting the more southern 


Then said Thorhall : ** The red bearded* was more 
helpfal than your Christ; this have I got now for 
my verses that I sung of Thor, my protector; sel- 
dom has he deserted me." But when they came to 
know this, they cast the whole whale into the sea, 
and resigned their case to God, Then the weather 
improved, and it was possible to row out fishing, 
and they were not then in want of provisions, for 
wild beasts were caught on the land, and fish in 
the sea, and eggs collected on the island. 

In the account of these transactions, given in liie Saga 
of Erik the Red, it is stated that a son was bom to Gudrid 
during this autumn (1007); which statement is corrobo- 
rated in a subsequent part of the present narrative. The 
child was called Snorri, and from this first of European 

latitudes in winter, and returning northwards in the spring ; in after times, 
however, they disappeared altogether from the coasts; and in the present 
day the number of whales in northern latitudes has much diminished. Off 
the mouth of thie Pettaquamscut River, in Narraganset Bay, is a rock 
called Whole Rock. See Plate I. and Antiq. Amer. p. 444. 

* Thor the eldest son of Odin and Frigga, the strongest of the Aser, and 
next to Odin in rank. 

" There sits on golden thrope 
Aloft the god of war, 
Save Odin, yields to none . 
'Mongst gods great Aser, Thor." 

Oehlenschlager — Pigott's Translation. 

The introduction of Christianity being but recent in Iceland, many of the 
Northmen still believed in Thor, or embracing the new religion with a 
wavering faith, applied to the Aser gods in cases of difficulty. '' The re* 
mains of the worship of Thor lingered longer in the North than those of any 
of the other Scandinavian deities. In Nial's Saga, a female Skald says to a 
Christian—* Do you not know that Thor has challenged your Christ to 
single combat, and that he dares not fight him V *' Pigott's Scandinavian 
Mythology, p. 101. 


blood bom in America, the celebrated sculptor Thorvald- 
son, as well as many other eminent Scandinavians, is 
lineally descended.'*' 


8* So is. eaid, that Thorhall would go to the north- 
w^d along Furdustrands, to explore Vinland, but 
Karlsefne would go southwards along the coast. 
Thorhall got ready, out under the island, and there 
were no more together than nine men ; but all the 
others went with Karlsefne. Now when Thorhall 
bore water to his ship, and drank, then sung he 
this songt-^ ^' ' *' -' 

•Befiple told me when I ctittb ' ^ ' ^- 

Hithe^y all would ^ so fine ; .: 

The good Vinland, known t^ fiime» i 

Rich in fruits, and choicest wine; 
Now the water pail the j send ; 
To the fountain I must bend. 
Nor ft*om out this land divine 
Have I quaffed one drop of wine. 

And when they were ready, and hoisted sail, then 
chaunted Thorhall : — 

Let our trusty band 
Haste to Fatherland ; 
Let our vessel brave. 
Plough the angry wave» 
While those few who love 
Vinland, here may rove. 
Or, with idle toil. 
Fetid whales may boil. 
Here on Furdustrand 
Far from Fatherland.t 

* See Genealogical Tables in Appendix. 

t In the original all these verses bear the stamp of the 10th and 11th 
centuries. Antiq. Amer. p. 144, note a. 


After that, sailed they northwards past Furd^- 
strands, and Kjalamess, and would cruize to the 
westward ; then came against them a strong west 
wind, and they were driven away to Ireland, and 
were there beaten, and made slaves, according to 
what the merchants have said. 

9. Now is to be told about Karlsefne, that he 
went to the southward along the coast, and Snorri 
and Bjarni, with their people. They sailed a long 
timei and until they came to a river, which ran out 
from the land^.and through a lake, out into the sea. 
It'Wa& verv shallow, and one could not enter the 
river without high water. Karbefee s^led, «ith 
his people, into the mouth, arid they called the 
place Hop.* They found there upon the land, 
self-sown fields of wheat,t there where the ground 
was low, but vines there where it rose somewhat. 
Every stream there was full of fish. They made 
holes there where the land commenced, and the 
waters rose highest ; and when the tide fell, there 

* I Hopi, from the Icelandic word h6pa to recede, and may signify here, 
either the recess formed by the confluence of a river and the sea, or the 
mouth of the river, or merely the inlet of the sea into which the river falls. 
This description corresponds exactly with the situation of the present Mount 
Hope Bay, through which the Taunton river flows, being connected with 
the sea by the Pocasset river and Seaeonnet Passage (see Plate I.). Hence 
tbe name of Hop given by the Northmen to this settlement, which^it is 
probable, was situated upon a beautifiil elevation that rises above the bay, 
and which was afterwards called by the Indians Ji^ont'Haup (pron. Hope). 
It appears also from a communication made to Professor Rafri by the Secre- 
tary of the Rhode Island Historical Society, that a tradition was current 
amongst the oldest Indians, of a wooden house swimming upon the river 
Assoonet (Pocasset), and containing men of another country, who fought 
the Indians with great success. Antiq. Amer. p. 374. 

f Sjalfsana hveitiakrar. See p. 00, note f. 


were sacred fish* in the holes. There were a great 
number of all kinds of wild beasts in the woods. 
They remained there a half month, and amused 
themselves, and did not perceive any thing [new] : 
they had their cattle with them. And one morn- 
ing early, when they looked round, saw they a 
great many canoes, and poles were swung upon 
them^ and it sounded like the wind in a straw- 
stack, and the swinging was with tiie sun. Then 
said Karlsefiid : '^ What may this denote ?'' Snorri 
Tborhrandson; answered him : ^^ It may be that this 
iff a sign ofrpeaee^ so let us take a white shield, and 
hdd it towards them ;'' and so did they. Upon 
dii8> the others rowed towards them, and looked 
wit£u wonder upon those that they met, and went up 
upon the land; These people were black, and ill 
fayoured» and had coarse hair on the head ; they 
hadilai^ge eyes and bnoad cheeks, f They remained* 

* Helg^ fisliar. This is snppoeed to have been the species of flounder or 
flatfish eaSied by the English, Holibat(Plearonectes hippoglossas Linn. Hip- 
poglossns vulgaris Cav.) and which is still called in Iceland "holy fish/* 
(beilagfisld) a name given, according to Pliny > in consequence of the pre- 
sence of these fish being considered to denote safe water. Speaking of the 
danger io be -apprehended from the dog^-fish, he adds : ** Certissima est se- 
curitas vidisse pianos pisees, quia nuiiquam sunt, ubi maleflca bestiae : qua 
de causa xirinantes saeros appellant eos.'' — Hist. Nat; Lib. iz. The Report 
of the Rhode Island Historical Society states that "The flat fish, and most 
of the Plenronectes^ including the Holibut, frequent our waters ;" and War^ 
den says t—'*^ H y a une grande abondance de poissons de presque toutes les 
especes* On en voit jnsqu* h quatre-vingts difoentes au marchd de New- 
port. La morue, leJUtau, Testurgeon, Talose, et d'autres poissons fonrmil- 
lent autonr des iles Nlmtucket." I. pp. 608. 261. Ebellng also says: — 
" Alle Pliisse sind sehr fischreieh." See Antiq. Amer. pp. 148, 367^ 445. 

t This description of the Skreelings t^rresponds exactly with the appear- 
ance of the present Esquimaux. 


there for a time, and gazed upon those that they 
met, and rowed, afterwards, away to the southward, 
round the ness. 

10. Karlsefiie and his people had made their 
dwellings ahove the lake, and some of the houses 
were near the water, others more distant. Now 
were they there for the winter; there came no 
snow, and all their cattle fed themselves on the 
grass,* But when springt approached, saw they 
one morning early, that a numher of canoes rowed 
from the south round the ness ; so many, as if the 
sea was sowen with coal : poles were also swung on 
each hoat. Karlsefue and his people then raised 
up the shield, and when they came together, they 
hegan to barter; and these people would rather 
have red cloth [than any thing else] ; for this they 
had to oflfer skins and real furs. They would, also, 
purchase swords and spears, but this Karlsefiie and 
Snorri forbad. For an entire fur skin the Skrae- 
lings took a piece of red cloth, a span long, and 

* '' Most winters a scanty subsistence might be procured by cattle; but 
this is not depended on. Farmers generally house their cattle in winter ; 
but whether this was formerly the case or not, we cannot say : we do not 
consider it absolutely necessary ; although a prudent husbandman will do 
it Some individuals in that vicinity, do not shelter their sheep, and say 
they thrive well and become robust. On the island of Nantucket, east of 
Martha's Vineyard, one of the most bleak, sterile, and to the agriculturist, 
forbidding spots we have, the sheep are not, and have not been, since its 
first settlement, housed or protected in any manner whatever. Severe win- 
ters, of course, hundreds die of cold and hunger. In the Narraganset 
country, situated west of the Bay, sheep are sometimes kept in the open 
air through the winter season.''—- Rep. of Rhode Island Hist. Society, 
Antiq. Amer. p. 368. Compare ante, p. 64, 

t A.D. 1009. 


bound it round their heads. Thus went on their 
traffic for a time ; then the cloth began to fall 
short among Karlsefne and his people, and they 
cut it asunder into small pieces, which were not 
wider than the breadth of a finger, and still the 
Skraelings gave just as much for that as before, and 

The Saga of Erik the Red, in giving an account of thia 
transaction, adds that Karlsefne, on the cloth being ex- 
pended, hit upon the expedient of making the women take 
out milk porridge to the Skrselings, who, as soon as they 
saw this new article of commerce, would buy the porridge 
and nothing else. *' Thus," says the Saga, " the traffic of the 
Skraelings was wound up by their bearing away their pur- 
chases in their stomachs, but Karlsefne and his companions 
retained their goods and skins."* 

11. It happened that a bull, which Karlsefne 
had, ran out from the wood and roared aloud ; 
this frightened the Skraelings, and they rushed to 
their canoes, and rowed away to the southward, 
round the coast : after that they were not seen for 
three entire weeks. But at the end of thai time, a 
great number of Skraelings' ships were seen coming 
from the south like a rushing torrent ; all the poles 
were turned from the sun, and they all howled very 
loud. Then took Karlse£ae's people a red shield, 
and held it towards them. The Skraelings jumped 
out of their ships, and after this, went they against 
each other, and fought. There was a sharp shower 
of weapons, for the Skraelings had slings. t Karl- 

* Antiq. Amer, pp. 59-60. t Valslbngur. 



sefne*s people saw that they raised up on a pole, an 
enormous large ball, something like a sheep's 
paunch, and of a blue colour j this swung they 
from the pole over Karlseftie's men, upon the 
ground, and it made a frightful crash as it fell 
down.* This caused great alarm to Karlsefine and 
all his people, so that they thought of nothing but 
running away, and they fell back along the riyer, 
for it appeared to them that the Skrselings pressed 
upon them from all sides ; and they did not stop 
until they came to some rocks, where they made a 
stout resistance. Freydis came out and saw that 
Karlseftie's people fell back, and she cried out: 
" Why do ye run, stout men as ye are, before these 
miserable wretches, whom I thought ye would 
knock down like cattle? and if I had weapons, 
methinks I could fight better than any of ye." 
They gave no heed to her words. Freydis would 
go with them, but she was slower, because she was 
pregnant ; however she followed after them into 
the wood. The Skrselings pursued her ; she found 
a dead man before her ; it was Thorbrand Snorra- 
son, and there stood a fiat stone stuck in his head ; 
the sword lay naked by his side ; this took she up, 
and prepared to defend herself. Then came the 
Skraelings towards her ; she drew out her breasts 

* The nature of this missile does not exactly appear, but it probably had 
some affinity with the harpoon used by the Esquimaux in fishing, and to 
which is attached a bladder, as well for the purpose of directing the weapon, 
as of marking its position after haying been thrown. In the present in- 
stance, stones would appear to have been added to this contrivance. 
Antiq. Amer. p. 152, note b. 


from under her clothes, and dashed them against 
the naked sword ; by this the Skraelings became 
frightened, and ran off to their ships, and rowed 
away. Karlsefhe and his people then came up, 
and praised her courage. Two men fell on Karl- 
sefoe's side, but a number of the Skraelings. Karl- 
sefiie*s band was overmatched, and they now drew 
home to tteir dwellings, and bound their wounds ; 
and they thought over what crowd that could have 
been, which had pressed upon them from the land 
side, and it now appeared to them that it could 
scarcely have been real people from the ships, but 
that these must have been optical illusions.* The 
Skraelings found also a dead man, and an axe lay 
by him ; one of them took up the axe, and cut 
wood with it, and now one after another did the 
same, and thought it was an excellent thing, and 
bit well ; after that one took it, and cut at a stone, 
so that the axe broke, and then thought they it 
was of no use, because it would not cut stone, and 
they threw it away. 

12. Karlsefiie and his people now thought they 
saw, that although the land had many good qua- 
lities, still would they be always exposed there to 
the fear of hostilities from the earlier inhabitants. 
They proposed, therefore, to depart, and return to 
their own country. They sailed northwards along 
the coast, and found five Skrselings clothed in skins, 
sleeping near the sea. They had with them vessels 
containing animal marrow mixed with blood. 

* Sjonhyerfing^r. 
H 2 


Karlsefne's people thought they understood that 
these men had been banished from the land : they 
killed them. After that came they to a ness,* and 
many wild beasts were there, and the ness was 
covered all over with dung, from the beasts which 
had lain there during the night, f Now came they 
back to StraumQord, J and there was abundance of 
every thing that they wanted to have. It is some 
mens say^ that Bjarni and Gudrid remained he- 
hindi and 100 men with them^ and did not go further ; 
but that Karkefne and Snorri went southwards^ 
and 40 men with them, and were not longer in 
Hope than barely two months, and, the same sum-' 
mer^ came back,^ Karlsefiie went then with one 
ship to seek after Thorhall the hunter, but the rest 
remained behind, and they sailed northwards past 
Kjalamess, and thence westwards, and the land 
w^s upon their larboard || hand; there were wild 
woods over all, as far as they could see, and scarcely 

* Perhaps Chippinoxet Point. This would appear to allude to a short 
e:tp^ition made up Narragans^t* Bay, after their departure from Hope. See 
Plate I. 

t ** Numerous animals formerly inhahited these parts, particularly the 
Deer (Cervus Virginianus), Fox, both red and gray (Canis Vulpes, fulvus et 
Virginianus), Wolf (Canis Lupus occiden talis), Woodchuck (Arctomys 
monax). . . the Weasel (Mustela), Skunk (Mephitis Americ.) Wolverine 
(Gulo luscus), and the Black Bear (Ursus Americ). A great variety of 
other animals were common here before the woods were cleared, and the 
State very generally settled." — Rep. Rhode Isl. Hist. Soc. Antiq. Amer. 
p. 364. \ A. D. 1009. 

§ This passage is evidently tbe statement of an imperfect tradition, to 
which the writer of the Saga gave no credit ; and although only involving 
a question of time, it must be rejected as inconsistent with the previous 
details : its insertion, however, is strongly characteristic of the candour and 
honesty of the writer, who is obviously desirous of stating all that he has 
heard upon the subject. || ^akborda. 


ajay open places. And when they had long sailed^ 
a river fell out of the land from east to west ; they 
put in to the mouth of the river, and lay by its 
southern bank. 


13. It happened one morning that Karlsefne and 
his people saw, opposite an open place in the wood, 
a speck which glistened in their sight, and they 
shouted out towards it, and it was a uniped,* which 
thereupon hurried down to the bank of the river, 
where they lay. Thorvald Erikson stood at the 
helm, and the uniped shot an arrow into his bowels. 
Thorvald drew out the arrow, and said : ** It has 
killed me ! — to a fruitful land have we come, but 
hardly shall we enjoy any benefit from it." Thor- 
vald soon after died of this, wound, t Upon this 
the uniped ran away to the northward ; Karlsefne 
and his people went after him, and saw him now 

* Elnfoetingr, from «in, one, and fotrfoot. This t^im appears to have 
been given by antient writers to some of the Indian tribes, in consequence 
of the peculiarity of their dress, which Wormskiold describes as a triangular 
oloth, hanging down so low, both before and behind, that the feet were 
concealed. In an old miscellaneous work, called Rimbegla, published at 
Copenhagen in 1780, a people of this denomination, inhabiting Blaland in 
Bthiopia, are thus described : — '^ Einfoetingar hafa sv& mikinn fot vid Jord, 
at their skyggja s6r med honum vid solarhita i svefni," i. e. says Professor 
Rafn : — *' Unipedes plantam pedis tarn amplam habent, ut ipsis dprmien- 
tibns sit umbraculi/' Antiq. Amer. p. 158, note a. 

t This is either an incorrect version of the death of Thorvald Eriksou, 
which is given in the Saga of Erik the Bed, pp. 72-73, or an account of ttie 
fate of some other Thorvald, who accompanied the expedition. 


and then^ and the last time they saw him, he ran 
out into a hay. Then turned they hack, and a man 
chaunted these verses : — 

The people chased 
A Uniped 
Down to the beach. 
But lo ! he ran 

< r 

Straight o'er the sea— 
Hear thou, Thorfinn ! 

They drew off then, and to the northward, and 
thought they saw the country of the Unipeds ; they 
would not then expose their people any longer. 
They looked upon the mountain range that was at 
Hope ; and that which they now found, as all one,* 
and it also appeared to be equal length from 
Straumi^^^d to both places. The third wintert 
were they in Straumi5^^^* They now became much 
divided by party feeling, and the women were the 
cause of it, for those who were unmarried would 
injure those that were married, and hence arose 
great disturbance. There was bom the first au* 
tumn,1: Snorri, Karlseftie's son, and he was three 
years old when they went away. When they 
sailed from Vinland they had a south wind, and 
came then to Markland, and found there five 
Skrselings, and one was bearded; two were fe- 
males, and two boys ; they took the boys, but the 
others escaped, and the Skraelings sank down 

* Probably the Blue Hills in Norfolk county^ which stretch from 
Milton southwards towards the Taunton river. See Plate I. 
t A. D. 1009-1010. t A. D. 1007, see ante p. 92. 


in the ground.* These two boys took they 
with them ; they taught them the language, and 
they were baptized. They called their mother 
Vathelldi, and their father Uvsege. They said 
that two kings ruled over the Skrselings, and that 
one of them was hight Avalldania, but the other 
Valldidida. They said that no houses were there ; 
people lay in caves or in holes. They said there 
was a land on the other side, just opposite their 
country, where people lived who wore white clothes, 
and carried poles before them, and to these were 
fastened flags, and they shouted loud ; and people 
think that this was White-man's-Land, or Great 


14. Bjami Grimolfson was driven with his ship, 
into the Irish ocean, and they came into a worm- 
sea,t and straightway began the ship to sink under 
them. They had a boat which was smeared with 
seal oil, for the sea- worms do not attack that ; they 
went into the boat, and then saw that it could not 
hold them all ; then said Bjarni : *^ Since the boat 
cannot give room to more than the half of our men, 

* Probably retired into caves where they dwelt. See infra. 

t Hvitramannaland eda Irland ed mykla. See Minor Narratives, Part 

t Madksjo. Probably waters infested with the teredo navcUig, from 
which the ships of Columbus received such injury in a more southern lati- 
tude. '* The seamen were disheartened by the constant opposition of the 
winds and currents, and by the condition of the ships, which were pierced 
on all parts, by the teredo or worm.** Irving*8 Columbus, p. 287. ** Con- 
tinuing along the coast eastward, he was obliged to abandon one of the 
caravels in the harbour of Puerto Bello, being so pierced by the teredo, 
that it was impossible to keep her afloat." lb. p. 303. The teredo navalit 
and its destructive effects may still be seen on the south coast of Ireland. 


it is my counsel that lots should he drawn, for those 
to go in the boiat, for it shall not be according to 
rank.'* This thought they all so high-n^inded an 
offer, that no one would speak against it ; they 
then did so that lots were drawn, and it fell upon 
Bjarni to go in the boat, and the half of the men 
with him, for the boat had not room for more. 
But when they had gotten into the boat, then sail), 
an Icelandic man, who was in the ship, and had 
come wi^ Bjarni from Iceland, «D<S thou in- 
tend, Bjarni, to separate frpm me her^?- Bjarni 
answered: "So it turns out." Then said the 
other : ** Very different was thy promise to my 
father, when I went with thee from Iceland, than 
thus to abandon me, for thou said'st that we should 
both share tlie same fate." Bjarni replied; ^* It 
shall not be thus ; go thou down into the boat, and 
I will go up into the ship, since I s€>e that thou 
art so desirous to live.'* Then went Bjarni up 
into the ship, but this man down into the boat, 
and after that continued they their voyage, until 
they came to Dublin in Ireland,* and told there 
these things ; but it is most people's belief that 
Bjarni and his companions were lost in the worm- 
sea, for nothing was heard of thep since that 

* At this period the Northmen were still numerous in the sea-port towns 
of Ireland^ Sitric the Dane being King of Dublin. See Moore, Vol. II« 
p. lOQ. 



15. The next summer* went Karlsefae to Ice- 
land, atid Gudrid with him, and he went home to 
Rejrhisiless. liis mother thought that he had 
niMe ' a bad match, and therefore was Gudrid not 
at home the first winter. But when she observed 
that Gudrid 'was a distinguished woman, went she 
home, 'khd they agreed very well together. The 
daughter' of Snorri Karlsefiiesson was ttallfrid, 
mother to Bishop Thorlak Runolfson. They had 
a sou who Thorbjorn hight, his daughter hight 
Thorunn, mother to Bishop Bjorn. Thorgeir higl^t 
the son of Snorri Karlsefiiesson, father to Yngvild, 
mother of Bishop Brand the first. A daughter of 
Snorri Karlsefiiesson was also Steinum, who mar- 
ried Einar, son of Grundarketil, son of Thorvald 
Krok, the son of Thorer, of Espihol ; their son was 
Thorstein Ranglatr ; he was father to Gudrun, who 
maoried Jorund of Keldum; their daughter was 
Halla, mother to Flose, father of Valgerde, mother 
of Herr Erlend Sterka, father of Herr Hauk the 
Lagman.t Another daughter of Flose was Thordis, 
mother of Fru Ingigerd the rich ; her daughter was 
Fru Hallbera, Abbess of Stad at Reinisness. Many 
other great men in Iceland are descended firom 
Karlsefiie and Thurid, who are not here mentioned. 
God be with us I Amen I 

* A.D. 1011. In another narrative of Karlsefne, which follows the 
present in the Antiquitates AmericansBy as well as in the short accoont of 
these same occurrences contained in the Saga of Erik the Red, it is stated 
that Elarlsefne passed the winter of 1010 at EriksQord in Greenland. 
Compare Antiq. Amer. pp. 64-183. 

t Hank Srlend80D,the last contributor to the Landn&mabok. See pp. xi-82. 




A.D. 1011. 

6. Now began people again to talk about expedi- 
tions to Vinland, for voyages thereto appeared both 
profitable and honourable. The same summer that 
Karlsefne came from Vinland, f came also a ship 
from Norway to Greenland ; this ship steered two 
brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, and they mnained 
for the winter in Greenland. These brothers were 
Icelanders by descent, and from Austfjord. It is 
now to be told that Freydis, Erik's daughter, went 
from her home at Garde to the brothers Helgi and 
Finnbogi, and bade them that they should sail to 
Vinland with their vessels, and go halves with her 
in all the profits which might be there made. To 
thi^ they agreed. Then went she to Leif her bro- 
ther, and begged him to give her the houses, which 
he had caused to be built in Vinland ; but he an- 
swered the same as before, that he would lend the 
houses, but not give them. So was it settled be- 
tween the brothers and Freydis, that each should 

* This narrative is contained in the Saga of Erik the Red (Antiq. Amer. 
p. 65, seq.) but has been transferred to this place, as well to make the 
chronological order of the various voyages more perspicuous, as on account 
of the further particulars relating to Karlsefne and Gudiid, with which it 
concludes. t A. D. 1010. See ante, p. 61. 


have thirty fighting men in the ship, besides 
women. But Freydis broke this agreement, and 
had five men more, and hid them ; so that the 
brothers knew not of it before they came to Vin- 
land. Now sailed they into the sea, and had before 
arranged that they should keep together, if it could 
so be, and there was little difference, but still came 
the brothers somewhat before, and had taken up 
their effects to Leif s houses. But when Freydis 
came to land, then cleared they out their ships, and 
bore up their goods to the house. Then said 
Freydis : " Why bring ye in your things here ?*' 
"Because we believed," said they, **that the 
whole agreement should stand good between us.'* 
'* To me lent Leif the houses,*' quoth she, " and 
not to you." Then said Helgi : " In malice are we 
brothers easily excelled by thee.'* Now took they 
out their goods^ and made a separate building, and 
set that building further from the strand, on the 
edge of a lake, and put all around in good order : 
but Freydis had trees cut down for her ship's 
loading. Now began winter, and the brothers pro- 
posed to set up sports, and have some amusement. 
So was done for a time, until evil reports and discord 
sprung up amongst them, and there was an end of 
the sports, and nobody came from the one house to 
the other, and so it went on for a long time during 
the winter. It happened one morning early that 
Freydis got up from her bed, and dressed herself, 
but took no shoes or stockings ; and the weather 
was such that much dew had fallen. She took her 


husband's cloak, and put it on, and then went to 
the brothers* house, and to the door ; but a man 
had gone out a little before, and left the door half 
open. She opened the door, and stood a ilittle time 
in the opening, and was silent ; but Finnbogi Jay 
inside the house, and was awaJke j he said : " What 
wilt thou here, Freydis?" She said: "I wish 
that thou wouldest get up, and go out with me, 
for 1 will speak with thee,'* He did soj they 
went to a tree, that lay near the dwellings^ and Bat 
down there. " How art thou satj£|fied here ?" sai4 
she; he answered: **WeU think J; pf the land's 
fruitfulness, but ill do I think of the discord that 
has sprung up betwixt us, for it appears .to me that 
no cause has been given.'' " Thou safest as it is," 
said she, <' and so think I; but ,my businfts& here 
with thee, is that I wish to change abips with 
thy brother, for ye have a largei: ship th^an I, and it 
is my wish to go from hence." , f* That must I 
agree to,*' said he, "if such. is thy wish.'' Now 
with that they separated; she went home, and 
Finnbogi to his bed. She got i^ta the bed with 
cold feet, and thereby woke Thorvai^, and he asked 
why she was so cold and wet. She answereicU with 
much vehemence : " I was gone," said she, " to the 
brothers, to make a bargam with them about their 
ship, for I wished to buy the large ship ; but they 
took it so ill, that they beat me, and used me 
shamefully ; but thou I miserable man ! wilt surely, 
neither avenge my disgrace or thine own, and it is 
easy to see that I am no longer in Greenland, and 

BY tliE NORTHMEN; 109 

I will separate from theiB if thou avengest not this.** 
And now could he no longer withstand her re- 
proaches, and hade his men to get up, with all 
speed, and take their arms; and so did they, and 
wfent straightway to the brothers' house, and went 
in, and fell upon them sleeping, and then took and 
bound them, and thus led out one after the other ; 
but Freydii^ had each of them killed, as he came 
autl' Now were* All the men there killed, and only 
women re^imined, and them would no one kill. 
Then said Freydis: "Give me an axe!" So M'as 
done ; upon which she killed the five women that 
were there, and did not stop until they were all 
dead. Now th^y went back to their house after 
this evil wwkV and Freydis did not appear other- 
wise than as if ^he had done well, and spoke thus to 
her people : ** If it be permitted us to come again 
to Greenland,^ isaid she, ** I will take the life of 
that man who tells of this business ; now should we 
say this, that they remained behind when we went 
away/*' 'Now eatlyin the spring made they ready 
the ship thii had belonged to the brothers, and 
loaded it With ail the best things they could get, and 
the ship could catry. After that they put to sea, 
and had a quick voyage, and came to ErikslQord 
with the 6hip early in the summer. Now Karlsefiie 
was there, and had his ship quite ready for sea, and 
waited for a fair wind ; and it is generally said, 
that no richer ship has ever gone from Greenland 
than that which he steered. 



7. Fi^eydis repaired now to her dwelling, wliicli, 
in the meantime, had stood uninjured ; she gave 
great gifts to all her companions, that they should 
conceal her misdeeds, and sat down now in her 
house. All were not, however, so mindful of their 
promises to conceal their crimes and wickedness 
but that it came out at last. Now finally it reached 
the ears of Leif, her brother, and he thought very 
ill of the business. Then took Leif three men of 
FreydisV band, and tortured them to confess the 
whole occurrence, and all their statements agreed. 
" I like not,'' said Leif, " to do that to Freydis, my 
sister, which she has deserved, but this will I pre- 
dict, that thy posterity will never thrive." Now 
the consequence was, that no one, from that time 
forth, thought otherwise than ill of them. Now 
must we begin from the time when Karlsefae got 
ready his ship, and put to sea : he had a prosperous 
voyage, and came safe and sound to Norway, and 
remained there for the winter, and sold his goods, 
and both he and his wife were held in great honor 
by the most respectablie men in Norway. But the 
spring after, fitted he out his ship for Iceland ; 
and when he was all ready, and his ship liay at the 
bridge, waiting for a fair wind, then came there a 
southern to him, who was from Bremen in Saxony, 
and wanted to buv from Karlsefhe his house broom.* 

* fl6s88notra. Some doubts have arisen as to the meaning of this word, 
which Finn Magnnten thinks, is here intended to express a yaue or weather- 


** I will not sell it,*' said he. ** I will give thee a 
half mark gold for it,'* said the German. Karl- 
sefiie thought this was a good offer, and they closed 
the hargain. The southern went off with the house 
hroom, but Karlsefne knew not what wood it was ; 
but that was mausur,* brought from Vinland. 
Now Karlsefne put to sea, and came with his ship 
to SkagaQord, on the northern coast, and there was 
the, ship laid up for the winter. But in spring 
bought he Glaumbseland, and fixed his dwelling 
there, and lived there, and was a highly respected 
man, and from him and Gudrid his wife has sprung 
a numerous a^d distinguished race. And when 
Karlsefiie was dead, took Gudrid the management 
of the house with her son Snorri, who was bom in 
Vinland. But when Snorri was married, then 
went Gudrid abroad, and travelled southwards, and 
came back again to the house of Snorri her son, 
and then had he caused a church to be built at 
Glaumbae. After this, became Gudrid a nun and 

cocky such appenjdsgeB having be^ formerly ornamented by the Northmen, 
at great cost, and placed on the top of the house. The price given (about 
JB16. steriing) is also more accordant with this interpretation. Torfseus 
calls it " coronis domns/' which seems to imply some ornamental appen- 
dage of the kind : the Editor has followed the Lexicon of Bjorn Haldorson, 
See Antiq. Amer. p. 441,note c. and Lexicon Islandico-Latino-Danicum 
Biorndnis Haldorsonii ex manuscriptis Legati Ama Magneeani cura, 
R. K. Raskii editum. Hafnise, 1814, 4to. 

* This is supposed to have been one of those beautiful varieties of the red 
maple (acer rubrum) or sugar maple (acersaccharinum) called '^ bird's eye," 
or " curled maple," and which, according to Dr. Webb, '* is found in Massa- 
chusetts, and thought by many to rival the finest mahogany." Antiq. 
Amer. p. 367. The old German name for maple of mcuuliolderbaum, as 
well as the Swedish mamr speckled wood, and tncuurercui, applied to old 
and knotty or marble-like wood, tends also to confirm this supposition. 


recluse, and remained so whilst she lived. Snorri 
had a son who Thorgeir hight ; he was father to 
Ingveld, mother of Bishop Brand. The daughter 
of Snorri Karlsefaesson hight Hallfrid; she was 
mother to Runolf, father to Bishop Thorlak.* 
Bjom hight a son of Karlsefae and Gudrid ; he 
wis fath^ to Thon.™, mother of Bishop B^. 
A numerous race are descended from Karlsefiie, 
and distinguished men; and Karlsefne has accu- 
rately related to all men the occurrences on all 
these voyages, of which somewhat is now recited 

* *<To the learned Bishop Thorlak Runolfson/' says Professor Rafn/' we 
are principally indebted for the oldest ecclesiastical code of Iceland, pub- 
lished in the year 1123 ; and it is also probable that the accounts of these 
voyages were originally compiled by him.'* Antiq. Amer. Abstract of Hist. 
Byid. p. zzxiv. 




B. — Fragment of Vbllum Codbx, No. 192, 8vo. Antiq. Amer. p. 290. 
Supposed to have been written about the end of the \Ath Century. 

Next to Denmark is the lesser Sweden, then is 
Oeland, then Gottland, then Helsingeland, then 
Vermeland, and the two Kvendlands, which lie to 
the north of Bjarmeland. From Bjarmeland 
stretches uninhabited land towards the north, until 
Greenland begins. South of Greenland is Hellu- 
land ; next lies Markland ; thence it is not far to 
Vinland the Good, which some think goes out from 
Africa;* and if it be so, the sea must run in be- 
tween Vinland and Markland. It is related that 
Thorfinn Karlsefae cut wood here to ornament his 
house,t and went afterwards to seek out Vinland 
the Good, and came there, where they thought the 
land was, but did not effect the knowledge of it, 
and gained none of the riches of the land. Leif 
the Lucky first discovered Vinland, and then he 
met some merchants in distress, at sea, and, by 

* Hence may be seen how far southwards the Northmen considerefl the 
newly discovered land to extend. 

t Hiisasnotrutre. See ante p. Ill, and note. The word htisasnotru, says 
Professor Rafn, may be rendered scopis, tritonibus, or ventilogiis. Antiq. 
Amer. p. 291 , note d. 



God's mercy, saved their lives ; and he introduced 
Christianity into Greenland, and it spread itself 
there, so that a Bishop's seat was established in the 
place called Gardar. England and Scotland are 
an island, and yet each is a kingdom for itself. 
Irland is a great island. Iceland is also a great 
island north of Irland. These countries are all in 
that part of the world, which is called Europe. 


CoDBX, No. 115, 8vo. Antiq. Amer. p. 293. 

Bavaria is bounded hy Saxony ; Saxony is bounded 
by Holstein, then comes Denmark ; the sea flows 
through the eastern countries. Sweden lies to the 
east of Denmark, Norway to the north ; Finmark 
north of Norway ; thence stretches the land out to 
the north-east and east, until you come to Bjarme- 
land ; this land is tributary to Gardarige. From 
Bjarmeland lie uninhabited places all northward to 
that land which is called Greenland, [which, how- 
ever, the Greenlanders do not confirm, hut believe to 
have observed that it is otherwise, both from drift 
timber, which it is known, is cut down by men, and 

* This remarkable geographical fragment is contained in the celebrated 
Greenlandic collection of Bjorn Johnson, and was evidently written before 
the time of Columbus. The name is supposed to be derived from the word 
gripa, to snatch, the collection being of a miscellaneous character. Antiq. 
Amer. pp. 280-1. 


also from Reindeer^ which have marks upon the earsy 
or bands upon the horns^ likewise from sheep ^ which 
stray thither^ of which there now are remains in 
Norway^ for one head hangs in Throndhjem^ 
another in Bergen, and many more besides are to be 
found]* But there are bays, and the land stretches 
out toward the south-west ; there are Jokels and 
Fjords ; there lie islands out before the Jokels ; 
one of the Jokels cannot be explored ; to the other 
is half a month's sail, to the third a week's sail ; 
this is nearest to the settlement hight Hvidserk ; 
thence stretches the land toward the north ; but he 
who wishes not to miss the settlement, steers to the 
south-west. Gardar hight the Bishop's seat at the 
bottom of Eriksfjord ; there is a church dedicated 
to the holy Nicholas; XII churches are upon 
Greenland in the eastern settlement, 1 1 II in the 

Now is to be told what lies opposite Greenland, 
out from the bay, which was before named : Fur- 
dustrandir hight a land ; there are so strong frosts 
that it is not habitable, so far as one knows ; south 
from thence is Helluland, which is called Skraelings- 
land ; from thence it is not far to Vinland the 
Good, which some think goes out from Africa ; 
between Vinland and Greenland is Ginnungagap,t 
which flows from the sea called Mare oceanum, and 
surrounds the whole earth [Hcbc verbotenus Gripld], 

* The whole of this pasgage ia considered by Professor Rafn to be an 
interpolation by Bjorn Johnson, or some other commentator. Antiq. 
Amer. p. 204, note a. t Davis^s Straits. See Plate III. 














• j 

'oolSoeUiy.J.J) JS3CI, 




Some remarkable monuments and inscriptions 
have been found on the eastern shores of North 
America, which bear testimony to the voyages and 
settlements recorded in the preceding narratives, 
and complete the mass of evidence that has been so 
ably brought forward by Professor Rafa, upon this 
interesting subject. The Rhode Island Historical 
Society have applied themselves to the examination 
of these remains, with a degree of zeal and ability 
worthy of the occasion, and details of high interest 
and value have been made known to the corresponding 
Danish members, through the medium of the dis- 
tinguished American secretary, Dr. Webb. From 
these communications it appears that, in the west-^ 
em part of the county of Bristol in the State of 
Massachusetts, may still be seen numerous and 
extensive mounds, similar to the tumuli that are so 
often met with in Scandinavia, Tartary, and Russia; 
" also the remains of fortifications that must have 
required for their construction, a degree of in- 
dustry, labour, and skill, as well as an advance- 


ment in the arts, that never characterized any of 
the Indian tribes. Various articles of pottery are 
found in them, with the method of manufacturing 
which they were entirely unacquainted. But above 
all, many rocks, inscribed with unknown cha- 
racters, apparently of very antient origin, have 
been discovered scattered through different parts of 
the country : rocks, the constituent parts of which 
are such as to render it almost impossible to en- 
grave on them such writings without the aid of 
iron, or other hard metallic instrument. The 
Indians were ignorant of the existence of these 
rocks ; and the manner of working with iron they 
learned from the Europeans, after the settlement of 
the country by the English." 

Of such remains, the most important that has 
yet been discovered is the Assonet rock, or ** Digh- 
ton writing rock,*' which is thus described in the 
Report of a Committee that was appointed by the 
Rhode Island Historical Society, to examine and 
report upon this remarkable stone, and who visited 
it in the month of February, 1830 : — 

*' It is situated six and a half miles south of 
Taunton, on the east side of Taunton river, a few 
feet from the shore, and on the west side of Assonet 
neck, in the town of Berkely, county of Bristol, and 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts; although, pro- 
bably from the fact of its being generally visited 
from the other side of the river, which is in 
Dighton, it has always been known by the name of 
the ' Dighton Writing Rock/ It faces north-west. 


towards the bed of the river, and is covered by the 
water two or three feet at the highest, and is left ten 
or twelve feet from it at the lowest tides : it is also 
completely immersed twice in twenty-four hours. 
The rock does not occur in situ, but shews indubit- 
able evidence of having occupied the spot where it 
now rests, since the period of that great and exten- 
sive disruption, which was followed by the trans- 
portation of immense boulders to, and a deposit of 
them in places at a vast distance from their original 
beds. It is a mass of well characterized fine 
grained greywacke. Its true colour, as exhibited 
by a fresh fracture, is a blueish grey. There is no 
rock in the immediate neighbourhood that would at 
all answer as a substitute for the purpose for which 
the one bearing the inscription was selected, as they 
are aggregates of the large conglomerate variety. 
Its face, measured at the base, is eleven feet and a 
half ; and in height, it is a little rising five feet. 
The upper surface forms, with the horizon, an in- 
clined plane of about sixty degrees. The whole of 
the face is covered, to within a few inches of the 
ground, with unknown hieroglyphics. There ap- 
pears little or no method in the arrangement of 
them. The lines are from half an inch to an inch 
in width ; and in depth sometimes one-third of an 
inch, though generally very superficial. They were, 
inferring from the rounded elevations, and inter- 
vening depressions, picked in upon the rock, and 
not chiselled or smoothly cut out. The marks of 
human power, and manual labour are indelibly 


stamped upon it. No one who examines atten- 
tively the workmanship, will believe it to have been 
done by the Indians. Moreover, it is a well at- 
tested fact, that no where, throughout our wide 
spread domain, is there a single instance of their 
recording, or having recorded, their deeds or history 
on stone."* 

This remarkable monument had long been an 
object of interest to American antiquaries, and 
several drawings and examinations were made of 
the rock and inscription, at various periods, be- 
ginning in the year 1680, but without any satis- 
factory result ; and it remained for Professors Finn 
Magnusen and Rafn to shew that the whole was a 
Runic inscription^ containing various cryptographs, 
and rude combinations of figures illustrative of the 
settlements of the Northmen, among which devices, 
may be yet traced the name of Thorfinn, and the 
figures CXXXI. being the number of Karlsefne's 
associates (151),t which after the departure of 
Thorhall, accompanied him to Hope. J 


* Rep. Rhode Isl. Hist. Soc. Antiq. Amer. pp. 356-358. 

t Twelve Decades being reckoned to the hundred, hence, called by the 
Icelanders and Scandinavians 8t6rt kundrad (great hundred). Antiq. 
Amer. p. 385. ante, p. 88, note *. 

t See ante, p. 93. Professor Rafn has gone into an elaborate disser- 
tation upon this inscription, proving by unanswerable arguments its Scan- 
dinavian origin. (Antiq. Amer. p. 378, seq.) In this he is fully borne out 
by the eminent Runologist Finn Magnusen, who shews that the whole of 
the apparently unmeaning hieroglyphics are illustrative of the Icelandic 
settlement in Hope : — The well known Runic letter ^ (Th) on the left hand, 
at once stamps its Scandinavian or Icelandic origin ', the combined letters 
which follow the numerals may be decyphered N. M. the initials of norronir 
menn (Northmen); the devices above this, represent the shields (p. 95)» 


A perspective representation of this remarkable 
rock, together with fac-similes of the several draw- 
ings that have been made of the inscription, ending 
with the most recent and accurate, made by the 
Committee of the Rhode Island Historical Society 
in 1 830, are appended to the Antiquitates Ameri- 
canae ;* and the analogy between these and inscrip- 
tions, which have been found both in Sweden and 
Iceland, is shewn by contiguous representations of 
the Scandinavian remains. The same plate con- 
tains also, the delineation of a curious fragment of 
metallic tessera^ found near Dublin, upon which is 
inscribed a monogram similar to that seen upon the 
Assonet Rock, as well as the Runic letter^ (H), 
shewing the Scandinavian origin of the fragment, 
which may be ascribed to the 9th or 10th cen- 

The Rhode Island Historical Society have also 
forwarded to Professor Rafa descriptions and de- 
lineations of several other remains which bear a 
striking analogy to that at Dighton ; among these 

under which lies a helmet reversed, indicative of peace. The figure below 
the name may be intended for a bullock, or some domestic animal, illus- 
trative of their daily parsuits, — the outline of a ship is blended with these ; — 
the figures of Gudrid and her child Snorri appear on the right; Earlsefne, 
protected by a shield from the attacks of the SkrsBlings, upon the left, while 
the bows, and missiles of their assailants, more particularly the large ball 
mentioned in page 98, are clearly discernible. Altogether the analogy 
which this inscription presents to those upon well known Runic monuments — 
the facility with which the various devices may be made to apply to the 
incidents and circumstances connected with the Icelandic settiement, and 
the distinct Roman or Latin letters which form the numerals— leave do 
reasonable doubt as to its being the work of the Northmen. 
* See Plate III. 



the Portsmouth and Tiverton Rocks form interesting 
subjects for examination and comparison.* 


But traces of the adventurous spirit, and early 
voyages of the Northmen are to be found in much 
higher, and far less inviting latitudes, shewing the 
progress of their course through regions, which 
even in the present age of high scientific advance- 
ment, and maritime enterprise, have tested, and 
not unfrequently baffled the skill and Hardihood of 
our most distinguished navigators. 

In the year 1824, a remarkable Runic stone was 
found upon the island of Kingiktorsoak, lying in 
y^"* 55' north latitude and 5iof^ 5' west longitude. 

The following is a representation of this remark- 

* Since tlie publication of the Antiquitates Americanee, a still further 
addition to American monuments has been discovered in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bahia, as appears from a communication made to the Royal 
Society of Northern Antiquaries by Dr. Lund, one of its members, residing 
at Lagoa Santa in Brazil : — It appears, on the authority of a Journal pub- 
lished by a Society lately established at Rio Janeiro, under the name of 
Instituto Historico Braziliero, that the remains of an antient city, built of 
hewn stone, have been recently discovered in the neighbourhood of Bahia, 
and that Professor Schiick, one of the members of the Institution, guided 
by Professor Rafn's work, has deduced from the inscriptions, the Scandi- 
navian origin of these remains. Among the ruins is stated to be a 
huge column, bearing a remarkable figure, which stretches out the right 
hand, and points with the fore-finger towards the north pole. Dr. Lund 
had not seen the monument at the period of his communication, but in- 
tended to undertake a journey to the place, and make a minute examina- 
tion of the ruins and inscriptions, the result of which may be expected to 
appear in a future number of the proceedings of the Northern Antiquaries. 
Abstract of the proceedings of the Quarterly Meeting of the R. S. N. A. 
30th April. 1840, in Berlingske politiske og Avertissements Tidende, Kjo- 
benhavn, May 4, 1840. 


able monument which was transported to Copen- 
hagen, and found on examination, to present a 
complete inscription in Runic characters : — 

which in modem Icelandic orthography would run 
thus: — 


Erling Sighvatsson and Biarai Thordarsson, and 
Eindrid Oddsson, on the seventh day," before the 
day of Victory,t erected these stones, and explored. 

Some doubts have been expressed by Runic scho- 
lars as to the signification of the characters represent- 
ing tbe date, hut the peculiar formation of the Runes, 
and other unerring indications shew that the inscrip- 
tion cannot be later than the 12th century .+ 

It appears from various Icelandic documents 
given in Professor Rain's work, that the Northmen 

■ Saturday, Diea Satuml. 

t A restital kept b; the Northmeii pretious In the IStb century ; it fell 
on the 25th of April. Antiq. Amer. pp. 35S-4. 
t Antiq. Amer. p. 36*. 





not an unreasonable supposition, more particularly 
when we find so many other circumstances corrobo- 
rative of the locality which is thence determined, 
and Professor Rafti, proceeding upon this assump- 
tion, draws out the following result : — 

•• In the 13th century, on the 25th July, the 

Sun's declination was . . I?® 54' North 
Inclination of the Ecliptic . 23" 32' 

If we now assume that the colony, and particu- 
larly the episcopal seat of Gardar, was situated on 
the north side of Igaliko frith, where the ruins of a 
large church, and of many other buildings, indicate 
the site of a principal settlement of the antient colony, 
consequently in 60** 55' n. lat. then at the summer 
solstice, the height of the sun there, when in the 
N. W. was 3'' 40', which is equivalent to the mid- 
night altitude of the sun on St. James's day (25th 
July) in the parallel of 75" 46'/'* Now the parallel 
of 75** 46' north latitude, would fall to the north- 
ward of Wellington Channel, the highest latitude 
reached by Parry in his most favourable expedition 
in search of a North-west passage ; and the dcr 
scription of the land seen, and objects met with on 
the voyage, corresponds well with the characteristics 
of these regions, as given by the distinguished Eng- 
lish navigator. The Northmen sail from Kroksf- 
jardarheidi, a name implying a frith bounded by 
barren highlands (heidi,) and known to be on the 
north side of Lancaster's sound ; this frith must have 

* Antiq. Amer. p. xxxix. 


been of considerable extent, as three days sailing 
are specifically mentioned in that part of the nar- 
rative describing their return ; — they descry several 
islands, and meet with many seals, whales, and 
bears ; — they see ice-bergs lying to the southward^ 
as far as the eye can reach ; — they observe traces 
of the Esquimaux (Skraelings) in various directions ; 
the sun was above the horizon both night and day, 
and although in the month of July, it froze dur- 
ing the night. There is little doubt, therefore, 
that these early explorers of the arctic regions, start- 
ing from Lancaster's sound, were driven through 
Barrow's straits, and Wellington Channel, into 
the Polar sea, from whence they saw the North 
Georgian Islands, and where they naturally fell in 
with a multitude of seals , whales, and bears.* 
It is a startling conclusion, and somewhat mor- 

* ''We had the first distinct view of hoth sides of the sound (Lancaster's 
sound), that on the south side consisting of high and peaked mountains, 
completely snow-clad, except on the lower parts, while the northern coast 
has generally a smoother outline . . . the high bold land on the north side 
of this magnificent inlet (Lancaster's sound) ... the magnificent view of the 
lof^ Byam Martin mountains . . . the land had opened out on the opposite 
■shore to the northward and westward of Cape Warrender (entrance of 
Barrow's straits) consisting of high mountains, and in some parts of table- 
land ... a great number of whales were seen in the course of this day's run . . . 
several black whales, and multitudes of white ones, were seen in the course 
of the day, also several narwhals, and seals, and one bear : there was an 
ice-berg in sight, (P. Regent's inlet) . . . part of the vertebroB of a whale was 
found iai some distance from the beach, but this had probably been carried 
there by bears, the tracks of whom were visible on the moist soil. (Lat. 72 
45' 16'', Long. 89o 41' 22") . . . there was just light enough at midnight to 
enable us to write and read in the cabin." (Hobhouse inlet, Barrow's straits, 
Aug..l819)r Journals of Voyages for the discovery of a North-west passage 
by Sir William Edward Parry, from the years 1819 to 1825, pp. 24, 31, 33, 
35, 39, 48, first Voyage, and p. 21, third Voyage, 4to. Ed. 



tifying to national pride, to find that these simple 
navigators of the 13th century, in their humble 
barks, rivalled the most distinguished arctic ex- 
plorers of the present day,* but however unwilling 
we may be to admit the evidence of a progress in 
maritime discovery, which tends to dim the lustre 
of ou^r own euterprisipg age, the simple documents 
in support of the^e early voyages carry a degree of 
conviction to the mind which disarms scepticism, and 
compels us to admit their credibility. 

It is a great mistake,, however, to suj^pose that 
the Northmen of thi$ period were altogether ignorant 
of astronomical science, and still greater, as some 
writers have done» to confound them with the . Vi- 
kings or Pirates oS a more barbarous age* The dis- 
coverers of America were Merchants, their ships 
were called trading ships [Kaupskip] ; sea^roving had 
been almost altogether discontinued by the North- 
men before the voyages of Bjami Herjulfson and the 
descendants of Erik -jf and all the expeditions which 

* '' Captain Parry, by the most yigilant exertions indeed, sacceeded, during 
the brief interval of an open season, to advance from Barn's Bay, by Lan- 
caster's Sound, above 400 miles westward, through floating masses of ice» on • 
the parallel of 75 degrees; but this distance is probably not the third part 
of the whole space between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. All the vqIh 
sequent attempts of that able navigator to penetrate any further in the same 
direction proved unsuccessful ; and his last laborious effort to reach the 
Pole, by dragging boats over an expanse of rough and broken ice, com- 
pletely failed. The utmost exertions of the crews scarcely enabled him to 
proceed, in 1827, three degrees northward firom Spitzbergen, and attain the 
latitude of 82<>. 45', not flu* beyond the usual resort of the Greenland 
whalers." Polar Seas and Regions by Sir John LeiUe, Professor Jameson, 
and Hugh Murray, Esq. F.R.S.E. Ed. Cab. lib. Vol. 1. 4th ed. pp. 53, 5a. 

t Leif Erikson, it will also be remembered, was brought up and instructed 
by the southern German Tyrker, and Thorfinn Kailsefiie was not only de- 


are rdated in these Sagas were undertaken either 
tor the purposes of discovering new countries, or 
making settlements in, or trading with, countries 
that had been already discovered. In the antient 
Icelandic work called Rimbegla, which has been 
before quoted, many rules are given for the mea- 
surement of time, the study of astronomy, geometry, 
&c* and although these arc probably translations or 
compilations from foreign works, they correspond 
with what the Icelandic clergy taught their people, 
after the introduction of Christianity. Among these 
are found scientific rules f(»* finding the course of 
the sun, moon, and stars, also the divisida of time 
thereon depending ; information respecting the as- 
tronomiGal quadrant, and its proper use ; different 
methods for ascertaining the spherical figure of the 
earth ; the longitude and latitude of places, and of 
calculating their distances from each other; the 
sun's dedination ; the earth's magnitude and cir- 
cmnference, the times when the ocean could best be 
navigated, &c.* 

Early in the eleventh century (1018—1026) the 
rich chieftain Raudulf, of Oesterdal, in Norway, 
taught his son Sigurd the science of computing the 
course of the sun and mo(m, and other visible celes- 
tial bodiei^ and particularly to know the stars which 

scended from princely Uneage, but had derived knowledge and experience by 
tmAmg Toyages fo various countries in Europe, Ireland amongst the rest, 
where science and learning flourished long before the Nortlimen set foot 
upon her shores, but where they then held the chief sea ports. See Moore, 
Vol. I. p. 279. ; 11. p. 76. 

* Finn Magnusen ap. Mem. de la Soc. des Antiq. du Nord, 18d6-lda7, 
pp. 181-182. 



niark the lapsia of time, thslt fa^ inight be aUe to 
ascertain the time both by day and by night, I'^ftien 
neither the^ sub- or Jnobn were- Visible* Eiren' in 
heathen timer wt^ hiive i^iinilar a^i^ounts of loielati^lie 
chieftainfe arid their sttad, imy eten ^simple pe^ 
saiits, who paid seduioi]^ atttotion to the motions cS 
thd heavenly bodies, in order from thrice to ascer- 
tain the true lapse of time; also of their belief in 
astit)logy, whiibh was mtimakely connected with old 
Scandinavian mythology. Olaiis Magnus said that 
in his time (about 1520) it was generally «cknow^ 
ledged in Sweden^'that the <)ommbn peo|de in anftieiit 
times had more knowledge of the stars than they 
possessed in his days* •. , . 

Some ideia nday be formed of the <iharacter and 
acquirements of the Scandi^aTian' merchants in 
the llth and ISth centuries from the Speeuluin 
Regale, a work written in the latter period. Here 
the merchant is exhorted to make himself acquainted 
with the laws of all countries, especially those re- 
garding commerce and navigation, as well as with 
foreign languages, particularly ^ the Italian and 
Latin, which were then in more general use. He 
was also enjoined to obtain a complete knowledge 
of the places and motions of the heavenly bodies, 
the times of the day, the division of the hori^ton 
aeeording to the cardinal dud mindr points, t^e 
movement of the sea, the climates, the seasons bsst 
adapted for navigation, the eqtdpping and rigging 

* Finn Magnusen ap. Mem. de la Soc, des Antiq. da Nord^i 1836-1837. 
pp. 181-182. 


of vesdelfl, arithmetical calculatioQ, etc. Moreover, 
to distinguish him^lf hy a becoming and decorous 
way of living, both as to moral conduct, mannerSi 
md attiTe, etc. : and thus it may be safely inferred 
tiiat the better educated of the northern merchants 
in the 10th «nd 11th centuries were not so inferior 
to their souther^ neighbours, a^ may be generally 

The extended voyages and commercial inter- 
course of the Northmen must, have also contributed 
to the amelioration of their habita and character. 
From the 8th to the 11th centuries they carried on 
a more active commerce, and a more e^teiiisive ma^ 
ritime communication with foreign countries thiE^ 
any other nation in Europe. Such, intercourse 
appears quite incompatible with that extreme degree 
of ignorance and barbarity in which so many writers 
would clothe all their actions and enterprises. 
England, Ireland, Italy, Sicily, France, Spain — 
were visited by these daring adventurers ; true> in 
the character, and with the spirit, for the most part, 
of reckless invaders, but that they should have con- 
tinued to return from such enterprises without ex- 
hibiting some modification of that ferocity, which 
might be expected to yield to the salutary influence 
of association with more civilized countries, seems 
scarcely credible. Their long continued intercourse 
of more than SOO years, with Ireland alone, a coun- 
try which in the 8th century ^oyed a European 

* Finn Magnusen, ap. Mem. des Antiq. du Nord, p. 183. 


reputation for intellectual eminence,* cannot but 
have had a beneficial influence upon their character 
and habits, and we should receive with caution all 

• "In tho 8th century, indeed, the high reputation of the Irish fbr 
scholarship had become established throughout Earope." Mooro, Vol. I. 
p. 289. " As Dmidism fell into disrepute, Christian seminaries multiplied 
. . . « Soon after the flrst foundation, wo read of a most noble city and 
seminary founded at Gonard near the Boync. In the days of St. FInanus, 
A. C. 500, we find it to contain no less than 8000 scholarsi amoog whom 
were some of the first eminence fur piety and learning. Colgan calls it a 
repository of all knowledge . . . About the same time, the academy of Ross, 
called Ross-Ailithri, in the county of Cork, was formed by St. Fachanos, 
as Ware notes, and IIanmer,in his Chronicle, tells us, tliat here St. Brandan 
taught the liberal arts .... The schools of Clonfert, Bangor, Rathene, 
Cashel, &c. were not less remarkable . . . Was a man of letters missing on 
the continent ur in Britain, it became 9 proverb : Amandattu est, ad di^ 
Hplinam in Hibernw. /" O'Galloran, Vol. I. p. 167, seq. *' It is evident," 
says Ware, "from antient writers of uudeniablo credit, that there were 
formerly in Ireland several eminent schools, or as we now call them. Uni- 
versities, to which the Irish and Britons, and at length the Gauls and 
Saxons flocked, ns to marts of good literature ; of which see Bede, Alcuin, 
Erik of Auzerre and the life oV Sulgenus. Among these schools, as that of 
Armagh was the most antient, so it was the most eminent .... the names 
of some of the readers and prelectors thereof, even in the times of the 
Danish tyranny in irclaud, are still extant." Antiq. of Ireland by Sir 
James Ware, translated by rfarris. Vol. II. pp. 210, 241. But lismore 
appears to have borne the palm among the Irish seminaries, as may be 
collected fi'om the lines of Boiuiventura Moronus, who thus describes the 
crowd of foreign scholars that flocked there from all parts of Europe: — 

Undiqne oonveniunt proceres, qnos dnlce trahebat 

Discendi studlum, major num cognita virtus 

An laudata foret. Celeres vastUsima Rheni 

Jam vada Teutonic!, jam dcseraere Sicambri : 

Mittit ab extremo gelidos aquilone Boiemos. 

Albis et Arverni CGeunt, Batavique froqucntes, 

Et quicunque colont alta snb rupe Gcbenas 

Non omnes prospectat Arar, Rhodanique fluenta 

Helvetios : multos desiderat ultima Tbule. 

Certatirn hi properant, diverso tramite ad urbem 

Zi«mo7'ia7if, juvenis primes ubi transigit annos. 

Life of St. Cathaldus, B. I. 


statemeitits upon a subject to which national or 
religious feeling is likely to have given an exag<- 
gerated colouring. Our knowledge of the excesses 
of the northern invaders is chiefly deriv^ from the 
evidence of monkish chroniclers, whose Christian 
faith and feelings were no less outraged by the 
deeds than the infidelity of the Pagan ravagers, 
and who writing in many cases long after the 
events, would naturally aid defective evidence with 
a fervid zeal and fertile imagination. The parti^ 
cular periods, also, and tribes to which this brutal 
ferocity of the Northmen is referred, should be 
more clearly distinguished. The peaceful Norwe- 
gian settlers in Iceland, for instance, in the 9th 
century were very different from those fierce in- 
vaders, who, in the same age, shook the kingdoms 
of Edmund and of Alfred to their centre, and com- 
mitted barbarities which have called forth the just 
animadversions ^ the distinguished historian of the 
Anglo-Saxons.''^ Flying from the despotic rule of 
Harald Haarfager, the Norwegian emigrants sought 
peace and freedom in a remote and sterile island, 
where the labours of the field, and the trading 
intercourse necessary to their isolated position, were 
relieved by the relaxation of innocent domestic re- 

* Sharon Tomer', Hist. ADglo-SazOns, Vol. I. B« ir. And yet if we are 
to Judge by the barbarous sentence of death inflicted by Ella npon Ragnar 
Lodbrok, and the successive assassinations of the Northnmbrian kings, the 
Anglo-Saxon chieftains of the 9th century would appear to have only dif- 
fered fi*om their northern assailants in exhibiting less open violence and 
personal daring. See Ibid. pp. 473^ 507. Alberich describes the incur- 
sions of the Northmen as ^' modo vehementior, modo tolerabilior.'* Albeiic. 
Chron. A. D. 837, p. 174. 


utdoBB, and intellectual' .pursuits ; ^asidio althoiiglr 
some ardent . spirit, greedy of ifame . dor '■. plunder^ « or^ 
stimulated by the more, honourable ^ombitiDiF: -of "^taoA; 
quiring knowledge and experience, i9yldntereoal^^ 
with foreign lands, might ocoasionally.M jdin jtibef 
fierce band of the recklesS' YiiN^iaig,' tfa&ivoyagesof tlie; 
Icelandic Northmen wereahnost exclusively ^6n- 
finted to trad^ or discovery^ /or the formation ^ o9 
peaceful settlem|aii^Sr:K)n!tibo6e^ sibores^ wbiob lli^ 
G^ ^enterpriser perseiwlrainoa^i and skill had x>pened 
td their. cbnnfeGtiaB.1*': ;■ ^ .^■■•ma » •■<•...-? •••■*! 

o It mayi.perfi«p6, be arg«d in disparagement of 
the; jearly Voyagers jn -the Bolar S^a^ that the 4sea-' 
SODS were theu more fieiv^urable io arctic .discoreidies^' 
tibnA they faav^ been ita later jageis^ and that ihere-^ 
%re the. .aiffioultiwi encoimtered by modem navi- 
^tors^ wereunknieMEna^^jthairipredecesfiors; but the 
popular belief of a milder and more genial climate 
hftpng formerly prevailed in Europe, is not sup- 
ported % any satisfactory evidence : indeed the opi- 
iliipns of 3ciei)itific .enq^ireys Would lead to a directly 
opposite conclusion,* and there is, at least, every 


* *< It is very difficult to ascertain the precise condition of the weather in 
distant ages. The tliennometer was nut ini:ente4'itiU4580^by jtbe ee](9- 
brated Sanctorio; nor was that valuable instrument reduced tq a correct 
standard before the year 1724, by the skill of Fahrenheit. We have hance 
no observations of temperature which go fiirtber back than a centiupy- 
Prior to this period, we mu4t glee^n our infofm^tloii ,firf»|n tb^. loose ttn4 
scanty notices which are scattered thrpugh the old cbronicl^ 
the state of the harvest, the quality of the vintage, or th^. eQ4iu^nce of 
frost and snow in the winter. Grea,t allowance, however, ^b^uld. be n^a^e 
for the spirit of exaggeration and the tone of the marvellous which infect 
all these rude historical monuments. . Qn glancing over the incidental 
notices of the state of the weather, it is obvious that no material change bos 


res^onto bdfieve that the periodical changes, which 
so often call' forth compdamts, and retrospective eom^ 
pariscmd «^)m the* aged and in&nn, respecting the 
altered eondii^n of 4he seasbns in the present day, 
wco^ not less frequent or severe in those favoured 
periods OIK whidt tb^ praises are bestowed. 

The supposed settlement on the eastern ooast of 
Greonland^^ (Eystribygd) now nearly inaccessible, 
has tended to ^ye »CQrr^Qcy to the popular notion of a 
tess; rigarods:idfanWe prevailmg in those regions, at 
the period of the Icelandic emigration to that codst, 
but < the able s^d arduous investigation of Captain 
Graah. has,. dispelled that illusion, and there is now 
little doubt, »that the 'soi called eastern settlement 
extended little' finrther than the south-eastern point 
of. ihe Greenland coafit, the chief and aihnost only 
habita^aonsrbeing' seated upon the western shore.* 

tcikeh place for ikflast tnousand years in the climate of Europe ; hut we 
nUHt^tiOT^eaeurethat^i^ 'Hdk gradually adqtdted leather id fnUder chardet^; 
at, least, insttiu^ of ezcesal^:®. A^vprity appear on ^Uie whole to 1)6 of ffjrm 
occarrence .... If the climate had undergone any real change }n the more 
tei^pertte parts of Brfrojiej A' 'corresponaftn^' ialteriitlon, witli Very dis^nct 
featuref, mutt Inefltably hare taken r place in the Arctw isegiongi But a 
dispassionate enquiry discovers no circumstances, which at all clearly point 
at such a conclusion j'' Sir John LriiAie,' Profess. Nalt. t^Wl. XThiyer. Edinb. 
ap^ « Polar Sett§ and Begions.'* Ed. Cab. Lib. Vol. 1. pp. 55-67. 
^ * Captain Oittah of the Danish IVaty was commissioned "by his gorerti- 
tfn^at to Explore the eatii coaSst of Greenland in 1828, dcnd di^t^rmhie the 
KAi^ mooted' ^ue^ioh of thi^ loisality of the JBystribygd; but itftei* a' most 
pferilons and'dlfflifthlt expi^ftlon h^ reached the Iatitadeof6So 18' v. without 
findhag **the tnort trifling ruin, or trace of fbrm^r drllization." After 
*bri<igin^ fMTWard amass of evidence in'proof of the conclusion to which he 
6^' arrived firbm the result of this journey, he thus sums up his able in- 
yektigatidn: — : 

' " Naair man bverveier alle disse GruAde, 6g tillige betsenker, at de Gamles 
C6iit8foii»kHftei^ er^ apd6typhisk6, at de, for' det Meste ere optegnede efter 


Of their remains Captain Graa.h ha^ given highly 
interesting and minute descriptions^ enabling us 

tittidtllg POTtflBlling, at de font ere samlede og komme for Lyset 100 Aar 
efterat Seiladsen paa Gronland var ophort^ at de ere samlede af Walchen- 
dor^, der bavde en forudfattet meniug om Bygderens Beliggenket [en 
metiing der forresten hos ham var saare natarlig, saasom ban ikke kiendte 
Beb'ggenheden af Cap Farvdy eller maaskee dromte om, at Grotdand 
havde nogen Vestkyst] at de forskiellige Afskrifter af dlsse Coursforskrifter 
lyde forskielligt efter de forskiellige Afskriveres Fortolknings maade og 
individuelle Meninger, at derimod GRiPLAog Bjom Jensens Chorographie 
bore umiskiendeligt Prseg of CSgthed; saa mener jeg enhver vpartisk 
maae antage, at Oesterbygden ikke kan have ligget paa Gronlands cestlige 

<^ When we reflect upon all tiiese pointB, and at the sftme time, eontidtf 
that the sailing directions [Coursforskrifter] of the autients are apocryphal, 
that they for the most part, are taken down from oral relation, — that they 
were first collected and bnmght to light 100 years after the communication 
with Greenland bad ceased, — that they have been put together by Walchen- 
dorff, who had a preconceived opinion about the situation of the Colony (an 
opinion which, moreover, was very natural for him, as he did not know the 
position of Cape Farewell, nor, perhaps, had ever dreamed of Greenland 
having any west coast at all) — that the various copyists of these sailing 
directions vary according to the mode of interpretation of the different 
copyists, and their individual opinions, — that on the other hand, the Cho- 
rography of Gripla and Bjom Jouson bear the unequivocal stamp of 
genuineness, — I am of opinion that every impartial person will conclude 
that the Eastern settlement could not have been situated on the east coast 
of Greenland." 

Underscigelse Reise til Oestkysten af Gronland efter kongelig Befalning 
udfort i Aarene 1828-81, af W. A. Graah, Capitain-Lieutenant 1 Soe- 
Etaten. Eiobenhavn, 1832, pp. 187, 188. 

Notwithstanding the clear and conclusive publication of Captain Gn^h, 
some doubts have still been expressed upon this mysterious subject [£d. 
Cab. Lib. zxviii. p. 252] which appear to be founded chiefly upon Graah's 
description of the appearance of the natives whom he met, and whose 
features he found to differ from those of their countrymen on the western 
coast, and to present a greater resemblance to Europeans. But an insur- 
mountable objection to the existence of a colony on the east coast of Green- 
land 13 presented by the impracticable nature of the country intervening 
between this coast and the west, and the impossibility of a mutual intercourse 
being maintained between two settlements separated by a chain of lofty 
mountains covered with perpetuad snow, and obstructed by precipices and 


firom these and more recent examinations of several 
localities on the west coast of Greenland, to trace 
the vestiges of the old colonies jfrom the most south- 
ern §ord at Cape Farewell, up to the neighhourhood 
of Holsteinborg. 


The remains in the vicinity of Juliana Hope (Ju- 
lianeshaab), supix)sed by Graah to be the original 
Eastern settlement, exceed in number and import- 
ance all others in Greenland. In this district are 
the remarkable ruins of Kakortok church, which 
fiimish evidence of a degree of civilization, that 
could scarcely have been expected to exist at the 
distant period of its construction. This ruin is 
situated upon an arm of Igalikko iQ^''^* about 
twelve English miles from Juliana Hope, and stands 
upon a piece of table land near the water, bounded 
on the other side by perpendicular rocks, beyond 
which snow-clad mountains rise 3 to 4000 feet 
above the level of the sea. It presents the remnant 
of a simple but tasteful style of architecture : the 
walls are formed of large and partly hewn stones, 
which were doubtless taken from the neighbouring 
rock, both being of similar quality, and each stone 
has been placed carefully at the side of and above 

rayines. See Graah, p. 12. The Editors of " Polar Seas and Regions," 
haTB erroneously placed the principal locatities of the Eystribygd [Eriks- 
fjord, Garda, and HeijuHsness,] all n. s. of Cape Farewell^ whereas their 
position as determined by Graah and Rafn is on the s. w. coast. Compare 
Plate II. and " Chart of Polar Seas.'' Ed. Cab, Lib. Vol. J. 


the other ; , bo traces of any connecting medium, are 
vigible on the te^ternal wall^ bi^t small pieces of a 
bard, white mBterisiy ii{>parently mortar, are ^een, 
here s^nd there» »among th<^ stones on the, inside. 
The principal pQ^t of the churchy which looks 
towards the squth, ^pd upon , the water^ has four 
rectangular windpw openings, and ;two door-ws^ys, 
the eastern of r^bich is nearly . one fopt Rud a half 
lower than the others ^nd,.prob9i)ly served. to n^it 
the official^ of the churph, while the westoin^t, was 
used by the congregating In thp pprthero^firoilt, 
only one window^pening is peroeptiWe. the w^ in 
which the corre3pond^lg apertuares; were placed, 
having fallen down. Tb*. principal entrwce ^pppj^rs 
tpbaye been at the western end, over^Tfhichas^a 
large window } apd.upon the: same l^tTel at the 
extern end is auQth^ivery skilfaUy^a^qhed. ^Some 
^mall rectangular, niches j^ppe^ la the. inj^ior 
walls, which probably served or were; i^teiiuledf t to 
liold tablets, ifWitli biblical te:i^ts, o)* images of sfdnts^ 
carved in wpod, or bone. *^ r -,/ , , i ft 

. : This remarkab],e Inuldingi which altogether /91&- 
hjibits as much sJdU a&^Rste in the, instruction, is 
i^y-ope feet inl^n^th by t^enty-fiv^ feet in bre{4th; 
the i ncqi;herft an4 sq^tbern walls are- over fouf feet 
tib^c^ ^d the ^height varies from seven tQ, thi^tpeii 
feet^^he t^jbpiess (]|f;^heend.waUs is nearlyf£»ve feet ; 
th^ bright of the eaptem wall, which, i^ tl^e jear 
1777 was twenty-twot fecit, 4s now only, eig^hteen feet 
three incheSf the western, nearly sixteen feet.; The 

•■yi * Grft&ft^^-kp. NqML Tidtk. for OldkyAd. B^ 1, j^. 15h tfeq. i ' 

BV the NORTklWEK; 141 

prindpkl entrance iis tlirels feet and a half wide, nix 
feet and a half high; abote the latter lies a large 
stone twelve feet long, twenty-five inches broad, and 
setem to eight inches high. The small niches are 
twenty-three inches long, seventeen inches deep, 
and fourteen inches high; the taulted window, on 
the ontside, three feet nine inches high, and two 
feet one inch and a half broad : inside five feet four 
inches high, four feet four inches brbad ; the cor- 
responding one in the western wall,^— outside three 
feet onb inch and a half high, and one* foot three 
inches broad; tod the four in the principal front, 
together with the one in the north wall, — outside 
two feet eleven inches high, and one foot four inches 
wide ;^ inside four feet four inches high, and fodr 
feet two inches' wides : round the whole buildito^, 
at the distance bf fifty or sixty feet, are traciBs' of a 
stone fence eit boundary, which, however, is tiow 
altogethto in ruins.* - ^ ' 

It is refmarkable that no vestige of any artificiial 
floor or flagging was found by Captain Graah on 
his etansSnatioh of tfaii^ ruin^ nor did st lon^ and 
carefol examination of the ground within the waHs 
feftd to the discovery of any objects of interest : 
• earth and stones of every shape and form lay inter- 
■taingled without order^ wherever the elcavation 
Was cafrried oil, and ileiither nionumental stones or 
inscriptions' wei« brtmght to light It has he^e 
be^i coilcluded that Kakortok church was never 
finished. Somerof the stones*, such as that over the 
principal entrance, seem to have been expressly 

* Graahi ap. Nord. Tidsk. for Oldkynd, B. I. p, 153. 


intended to receive inscriptions ; but the dreum- 
stance of the church never having been completed 
would account for their present condition. On the 
whole, these ruins, compared with the other remains 
in the same district, shew that Kakortok church was 
one of the last, if not the very last building erected 
in Greenland by the Icelandic colonists.'* 


A Gre^alander named Christian, who lives in 
IgaUkkos about nine Danish miles from the colony 
o£ Juliana Hope, and had adopted European habits, 
went to look for some stones to repadr his house, 
amongst a heap of ruins, which lay closely piled to- 
gether, and covered with turf and stones, at the end 
of the remains of a building, which was supposed to 
have been a church, and there met with a stone 
which was marked with traces of writing. Shortly 
after this he visited the Danish colony at Juliana 
Hope, and mentioned the circumstance to the Di- 
rector, Mr, Mathiesen, who immediately concluded 
that it was a Runic stone. With true antiquarian 
zeal he instantly took measures to ascertain the 
fact, and having prevailed upon the discoverer to 
convey the stone by water to the colony, he trans- 
mitted it to Copaihagen by an opportunity which 
fortunately happened to present itself at the moment, 
prudently retaining a copy of the inacription. In 
the spring of 1830 this remarkable memorial 
reached Copenhagen, and was submitted to the 

* Graah, p. 165. 


examinsdion of the leading Runologists, who fomid 
the foUowinfir characters admitting of a dear loe- 
la-dic mterpitation :- 

which, in Roman letters, would be : — 


The name of Vigdis occurs frequently in old 
Icelandic narratives^ and is still used in Iceland ; 
the initials M. D» are intended to shew whose 
daughter this particular Vigdis was, M- being tiie 
initial of the father. Now among the various Ice* 
landic nanaes beginning with M. those of Mar, 
Markus, and Ms^us are the most common ; the 
initials mean therefore Mars dotter^ Markus dotteor, 
or Magnus dotter, and the inscription may be 
read : — 

'* Vigdiff Mto dotter hvifir her : Qled^i Gud sdl hennar." or— 
*' Vigdiff Mars daughter reefs here : May God gladden her soul. " 

This remarkable monument, affordincr such 
striking evidence of Christian worship and religious 
faith, may be ascribed to the 11th or 12th century; 
the stone is thin and flat, and of the red sandstcme 


formatioii; the part below tha inscription 'has been 
broken q% leaving a length of two {tot fifteen inches 
by fourteen inches, with a thickness 6f two inches j 
from the top of the stone to the beguining of the in- 
scription, it measures two feet, and the lower extre- 
mity was probably the same length.*^ 


About two English miles north of flriederichsthal^ 
on the other side of the neighbouring ^ord, Lat. 
6(f N. where a number of antierit ruins are still 
visible, the Rev. Mr. de Fries, Principal of the Mis- 
sion of the United Brethren, who had established a 
settlement on the coast in 1733, found, in the yew 
1831, a monumental stone, over the entrance of a 
Greenlander's house, where it had^long lain. He had 
it immediately conveyed to the Colony of Juliana 
Hope, from whence Mr. Mathiesen, the chief of the 
Danish settlement there, secured its removal to Cq- 
penhagen. This stone is flat, and of an oblong fprm^ 
being three feet and a half in length, by two feet, at 
the top, and one foot and a half at the bottom, where 
it has been broken off. The thickness is fiver 
inches at the upper and two inches at the lower 
end ; it is of hard granite, but the upper surface 
appears to have been defaced by long exposure 
to rain and sleet. Above is a circular figure, and 

* Nordisk Tidtkrift for Oldkyndighed, B. 1. p. 221. Antiq. Amen p^ 

t Supposed by Graab to be tbe antient Heijulfsness. UnderBogelse 
Beiae, p« 189. 


iHimediateiyi: il^elowy a long cross bounded by an 
ovaL Under the h0ri2ontal arm of the cross, and 
pamUel with the perpendicular limb, is an Icelandic 
i|i9ori|>tion» > in the old northern 'Latin letters, 
whidt^ were* in^use^at the beginning of the middle 
ages. This inscription ii» contained in two lines, 
one being on each side of the perpendicular, or 
lower arm, an4 .the Utters, are exactly similar to 
those that are met with in Northern inscriptions of 
the 12th fcfefttttry, bdJiig ais follows :— 

IJE^;: HmiH : H»0/ 
V KOL.GEI^Sii S,. 

Abbve the cN^al Doiiriaary iare traces of another, 
p^objBibljr blddf^ * iiisftnption, the greater part of 
which is' defic^d, or "broten off; on that which 
remains thiB'iVoHl'I*£)tjS is visible. It is probable, 
therefore, thi(t here the day 6^ the month was^ 
given, according' to the Roman calendar, which^ 
was in general use jstmongst the northern clergy, in 
the middle ages. After the letter O in the prin- 
cipal infecriptioil, appears an oblique line, which 
could scarceily have belonged to any other letter 
than an A. irid the inscription may therefore |)e 
read: — **H6r HviTir Hroaldr (or Hroar) Kol- 
grimsi^bn''— i- " Here rests Hroar Kolgrimsson.*' 
The n&xhe of Hroaldr or jflroar, as well as that of 
Kblgriirit^ U genuine old northern, and fcoth are 
often met with in the narrativtis of ^fetrlit^ tiffies, 
although now, almost entirely gone out of use : the 
name of Kolgrimr appears to have been continued 



amofigst the Greenlaaders of Norwegio-Ioelandic 
descent down to the later yeari& of the colony.* 

These are but a few of the numerous oTidenoes 
of the antient Iceldriidic colony which are still 
visible. Captain Graah enumerates no less than 
six or seyen places where the traces of churches 
have been found on the western coast of Green- 
landyt and the labours of the Antiquarian Society 
of Copenhagen are every year bringing to light 
some new and interesting detail connected widi the 
history of the early settlers.t 

The final fate of this colony is, however, still in- 
volved in mystery. After having existed a flourish- 
ing settlement for more than 400 years, during the 
whole of which period a communication appears to 
have been kept up with the several branches in 
the western hemisphere,— it vanishes altogether 
from the page of history ; nor was it until the 
pious, ardent, and indefatigable Hans Egede, after 
years of patient and ineffectual endeavour, at length 
socceed^ in obtaining penni^ion from the dJsI. 
government to form a settlement on the coast, that 
Greenland, in the beginning of the 18th century, 
again became known to Europe. 

The scanty notices of its history from the end of 
the period embraced by the Sagas, up to the time 
of Egede's pious mission shall now be briefly related ; 

* Nordisk Tidskr. f»01dkyndig. B. 1. p. 221, seq. Antiq. Amer. p.840-1. 
t Underaogelse Reise, p. 187. See also Pingel ap. Nord. Tidsk. f. Old- 
kynd. p. dl9, seq. 
t See Gronland's Historiake Miadesmerker^ passim. 


but as the earlier accounts are denved from antient 
Icelandic manuscripts, a simple reference to which 
might not, perhaps, be satisfactory to the general 
reader, it becomes necessary to follow Professor 
Rafh,* and shew the nature of the documents on 
which these annalistic records are founded : — 

1. Annates Islandorum Hegii, being Annals of 
Icelandic History from the time of Julius Csssar to 
the birth of Christ, and thence by another writer 
to the year 1328, where they terminate. From a 
passage in the title, which states that the record 
contains occurrences from the time of Caesar down 
to the 5th year of the Emperor Frederic I. it is 
inferred that the writer of the first part lived in 
the year 1156, after which the annals were copied 
and brought down by another hand to 1307, to 
which period the copy may be referred : the re- 
mainder was then continued by a third compiler 
to 1328. (R.) 

2* Annales Vettistissimi. From the birth of 
Christ to the year 1313, witten in the 14th cen- 
tury. (V.) 

3. Annales Skalholtini. (Skalholts annal hinn 
forni) Antient Annals of the Bishopric of Skalholt 
in Iceland, written in the middle of the 14th cen- 
tury. These are supposed to have commenced 
with the birth of Christ, but the part previous to the 
year 140 is wanting, and they terminate with 1356. 

4. Uogmanns Annall. Annals of the Legmen or 
Governors of Iceland. The first part is lost ; 

* BxcerpUi ex AnaalibuB IsktiKiorum Antiq. Amer. p. 255. 


the remainder extends from 272 to 1892, tlife 
interval from 460 to 656 being also deficient. 
These annals accord with the MS. called by Bishop 
Brynjulf Sveinson, who lived in the middle of the 
17th century, " Skalholfs ann&l hyna nyaj*\ or 
" Revised Annals of Skalholt," which extend from 
A. D. 70 to 1430. These two series were united by 
Arnas Magnussen to form the codex, No. 427, 4to* 
so that the Lagmen's Annals, as far as they extend, 
may be considered the foundation of the series : to 
these also properly belongs the paper codex. No. 417, 
which extends from a.m. 3916 to a. d. 1427- (L.) 

5. Annales JReseniiniy so called in honour of the 
eminent Resenius, Councillor of State, and Pro- 
fessor of Icelandic Literature, by whom they were 
preserved. They embrace the period extending 
from 228 to 1295, and appear to have been auto- 
graphs written at the termination of the period. 

6. Annales FhteyensiSf so called from having 
been found in the Codex Flateyensis. They were 
written by the ecclesiastic Ma^us Thorhallson, 
and include a period of time extending from the 
creation of the world to the year 1395. (F.) 

7. Annales Holensesy obtained by Torfaeus from 
the episcopal seat of Holum in Iceland. In liB89 
he gave them to Arnas Magnussen, in whose col- 
lection they are now to be found. No. 412, in 4to. :. 
they extend from 636 to 1394. (H.) 

8. Annales GrrcBnlandicij compiled by Bjom 
Johnson of Skardsoe, and inserted at the end of his 


Annals of Greenland (Greenland's annall) under the 
title of: Stuttligir agrips ann&lar um Greenland 
i vissu drtalif or " Short Annals of Greenland for 
certain years." 

From these various contemporary documents, 
which will he distinguished hy the final letters or 
syllahles appended ahove, the following chronolo- 
gical details have heen ohtained : — 
1121. Erik, Bishop of Greenland, went to seek 
out* Vinland. R.F. 
Bishop Erik sought out Vinland. Res. 
Bishop Erik Upse sought Vinland. L. 
Bishop Erik Upse went from Greenland to 

seek out Vinland. exscr. 417* 
Erik, Bishop of Greenland, sought Vin- 
land. H. 
Erik, Bishop of Greenland, went to seek 
Vinland. G. 
1285. A land is discovered west from Iceland. V.F. 
New land is found - - - .f H. 
Adalbrand and Thorvald, the sons of Helge, 

found the new land. R. 
Adalbrand and Thorvald, Helge's sons, found 

new land west from Icelaiid. G. 
The feather islands J are discovered. S.L. 
1288. Rolf is sent by King Erik to seek out the 
new land, and called on people from Ice- 
land to go with him. C. 

"* ^ F6r at leita." Erik is mentioned in Rimbegia, p. 820, as the first 
Bishop of Greenland, also in the Landndmabok, Lib. I» c. 13, as " Groenlan- 
dinga biskup/' Antiq^. Amer. p. 208. 

t ''Fannst njrja land/' the rest is wanting in the MS. 

\ Ddneyjar, probably Penguin and Bacaloa islands, N.E. coast of America. 


1289, King Erik sends Rolf to Iceland to seek out 

the new land. F. 

1290. Rolf travelled through Iceland, and called 

out men for a voyage to the new land.* F. 

1S95. Landa-Rolf died.t F. 

1347. There came XIII. sea-ships to Iceland* 
The Eindrida was lost to the westward 
on Langaness } the men and the greater 
part of the goods were saved. The Bes- 
salang went to pieces off Sida ; of her 
crew were drowned Halldor Magri and 
Guthorm Stall, and in all XIX men ; 
there was also much damage done to the 
cargo. There were hesides VI ships 
driven hack. There came also a ship 
from Greenland smaller in size than the 
small Icelandic craft ; it came into the 
outer Stream^ord ; it had lost an an- 
chor ; therein were XVII men, who had 
heen to Markland, hut on their return, 
were driven in here. In all were here for 
the winter XVIII sea-ships, hesides the 
two that were lost in the summer. S. 

* The notices of " N^ja land,*' and " Duneyjar,'* wouW seem to refer to 
a re-discovery of some parts of the eastern eoast of America* which had 
been previously visited by earlier voyagers. The original Icelandic ap- 
pellation of Njja land, or N^ja fundu land, wonld have naturally led to 
the modern English name of Newfoundland, given by Cabot, to whose 
knowledge the discovery would have come through the medium of the com- 
mercial intercourse between England and Iceland in the 15th century. 

tThe Lagmans Annals make mention of continued storms and pestilential 
disease, followed by famine, in 1287, (Antiq. Amer.p. 261), whitth may ac- 
count for the imperfect records of this period. From the cognomen of Landa 
or Explorer, applied to Rolf, on this occasion, the expedition would appear 
to have taken place. 


There came a ship from Greenland, which 
had sailed to Markland, and therein eigh- 
teen men. F. 

Thus far the contemporary Annals of Iceland. 
We are next informed that during the episcopate of 
Bishop Alf, who lived in the year 1349, or accord- 
ing to others, 1379, the Western settlement of 
Gri^enland was attacked by the Skrselings or Esqui- 
maux, when eighteen Greenlanders of Icelandic 
descent were killed, and two boys carried off pri- 
soners. On this being made known in the Eastern 
settlement, Ivar Bere, or Bardson, who appears to 
have been bailiff or superintendent at the Bishop's 
reudence, was dispatched to the assistance of the 
n^hbouring colony, but found it deserted, and 
meeting with nothing but cattle, he had these 
conveyed to the ship, and returned : with this event 
closes the history of the Vestribygd.* 

But of the Eastern settlement we have tidings 
down to the middle of the 15th century : trade wa^ 
carried on between it and Denmark until towards 
the end of the 14th century, although the colony was 
not annually visited, as appears from the circum- 
stance that when in 1388, Bishop Uendrick went 
to Greenland, he received orders to have the royal 
dues lodged in a specified place, as no ship had 
gone to the country that year. The last Bishc^, 
flx^cordmg to TorJEseus, was Andrea^r, or Endride 
Andi^asson, who was appointed to the office in 
1406, but whether he ever reached the country was 

* Graah^ p. 4, sieq. 


unknown until Professor Finn ,Miignjijisw^ a few 
years since, discovered that three* yes^rs subsequent 
to that period, namely in 1409^ he filled the ofljce at 
the episcopal seat of Gardar, and there prepared, or, 
was a party to the contract of anaarriage, firoip w^ch 
the learned Runologist himself, a^ well as many, 
other distinguished Icelanders owe their descent. 
After this period all communication between Green* 
land and the rest of the Danish territory^ and cqht 
sequently between Greenland and Amei:ica, appear^ 
to have ceased, for Queen Margaret and King ErU^ 
forbade dieir subjects to trade to the. country. 
The war which then raged in the north of Europat 
also prevented vessels from visiting the coast, and , 
thus no knowledge of the colony could, bei.obn; 
tained.* Meantime some further. light has. bean, 
thrown upon the fate of the settlers by the discovery 
in. the Papal archives, of a brief from Nicholas V-^ 
to the Bishops of Skalholt and Holum, written in 
the year 1448, which runs as follows i-^ 

" With reference to my beloved children, who 
are natives of and dwell in the great. island of 
Greenland, which is said to lie on the extremest 
boundaries of the ocean, northwards of the king<* 
dom of Norway, and in the district of Throndjem, 
have their pitiful complaints greatly moved my ear, 
and awakened our sympathy, seeing that the inha-< 
bitants, for almost six hundred years, have held 
the Christian faith, which, by the teaching . of 
their first instructor. King Olai^ was established 

* Oraah, p. 5. 


amdngst them, firm and immoveable under the 
Roitian See, and the Apostolic forms ; and seeing 
that, in after years, from the constant and ardent 
zeal of the inhabitants of the said island, many 
sacred buildings, and a handsome cathedral, have 
been erected in this island, in which the service 
of God was diligently performed, until heathen 
foreigners from the neighbouring coast, thirty years 
since, eatne with a fleet against them, and fell with 
fury nptm all the people who dwelt there, and 
laid waste the land itself and the holy buildings 
with fire and sword, without leaving upon the island 
Greenlalid, other than the few people who are said 
to lie fer off, and which they, by reason of high 
mountains^ could not reach, and took off the much 
to ' be cotfimiserated inhabitants of both sexes, par- 
ticalarly thofie whom they looked upon as convenient 
and strong enough for the constant burden of 
slavery, and took home with them those against 
whom they could best direct their barbarity* But 
now since the same complaint further saith that 
many, in the course of time, have come back from 
said captivity, and after having, here and there, 
rebuilt the devastated places, now wish to have the 
worship of their God again established, and set 
upon the former footing ; and since they, in con- 
sequence of the before named pressing calamity, 
wanting the necessary means themselves, have 
hitherto not had the power to support their priest- 
hood and superiors, therefore, during all that 
period of thirty years, have been in want of the 


consolations of the Bishops and the seryices of the 
Priests, except when some one through desire of 
the service of God, has been wilUng to undertake 
tedious and toilsome journeys to the people whom 
the fury of the barbarians has spared, — Seeing that 
we have a complete knowledge of all these things, 
so do we now charge and direct ye brethren, who, 
we are informed, are the nearest Bishops to the 
said island, that ye, after previously conferring with 
the chief Bishop of the Diocese, if the distance of 
the place allows of it, to nominate and send them a 
fit and proper man as Bishop."* 

Captain Graah conjectures that the fleet thus 
alluded to in the Papal brief, came from England, 
which country having, about that time, suffered a 
great decrease in her population by the pestilential 
disease known by the name of the *^ black death,*' 
sought to repair the injury by seizing the inhabit- 
ants of those northern lands that were preserved 
from this plague. Many complaints, he says, were 
made upon this subject by Margaret of Denmark and 
her successors, until, in 1433, a treaty was made 
between England and Denmark, containing the 
conditions that "whatever people have been car- 
ried from Iceland, Finmark, Helgeland, and other 
places, His Majesty of England shall provide that 
wherever they are found in his dominions, they 
shall go back, and shall receive payment for their 
services, and so order that they come free to their 

* Extract from Vatican Archives in Paul Egedes EfterretDinger, p. 87, 


homes again ; and it shall be made known over aU 
England within a year and a day after the date of 
these letters, of the said captives release/'* This 
opinion is strengthened by the circumstance of Pope 
Eugenius IV. having in this same year (1438) 
nominated one Bartholomaeus to the Bishopric of 


But the fate as well of those who escaped the fury 
of the hostile invaders, as of those who afterwards 
returned from captivity, is still involved in mystery. 
Probably they were attacked and exterminated by 
the Esquimaux like their countrymen of the Western 
settlement, or being so reduced in numbers by the 
above motioned aggressions^ and unprovided with 
the Ministers of their religion, became heathens, and 
amalgamated with the natives : or they might have 

* Undersogelse, Reise, p. 7. Capt. Graah gives no authority for this ex- 
tract ; and I have been unable to find any reference to the alleged treaty, 
either in the Statutes, Chronicles, or State Papers for the reign of Henry 
VI., to which period the extract refers : Grafton's Chronicle, however, as 
vtrell as the Statutes, so far favour the statement as to record a destrustive 
plague in and in the neighbourhood of London, in the ytar 1405, and a repa- 
rative treaty with Deuouurk in 1429> which contain the following passages :— 

'' 1405 — 7. This summer the plague of pestilence reigned so sore in the 
Citie of London, and in the countrie round about the Citie, that the King 
durat not repayro thither.** Graft. Chron. *'It is ordeyned that none 
of hi» liege people nor sublectes of his realme of England, by audacitie of 
theyr foly, presume to enter the realmes,lande8, domynyons, streytes, terri- 
toTies, jurisdictions, and places of the sayd King of Denmarke, against the 
ordy^ons, prohybycyon, and interdictyon of the same his uncle above re- 
jgaembered, and in contempt of the same, upon paine of forfayture of all 
theyr movable goodes and imprysonment of theyr person at the Kynge's 
^^m." Stat. 8th Henry VI. (1429.) 

t Vat' Arch. ap. P. Egede, p. 86. According to Crantz, the suffragaa 
Bishop of Roeskilde subscribed himself Bishop of Greenland in 1533. See 
Hist, of Greenland, Vol. I. p. 253. 


voluntarily left the country, on finding that all trade 
with it was discontinued, for being dependent upon 
foreign ships for their supplies, they were necessa- 
rily reduced to great privations on this intercourse 
being arrested. The following, however, is the 
story current in the country itself: — 

" Many winters after the old Northmen had been 
cleared from the land and destroyed by the Green- 
landers, there still lived some on the northern arm 
of Igalikoi^^^^j among whom was a large old man, 
of more than ordinary strength, whose name was 
Igaliko, after whom the ^ord was named by the 
Greenlanders. He was as chief over all the other 
Northmen at the ^ord, and had sons, one of whom 
was yet in his childhood. The Greenlanders had 
many times sought to destroy him and his family, 
but had always returned in disgrace from the at- 
tempt, and some of them on such occasions had 
fallen. But having determined to extirpate the 
Northmen from their land, as they called it, they 
planned new means of eflFecting their design, which 
were attended with success : — During the summer, 
the wind generally blows up the ^ords, consequently 
into Igaliko fjord, and on this wind was their chief 
dependance. Several of the Greenlanders got into 
one of the boats usually worked by women in that 
country, and covering themselves in white skins, 
lay down in the bottom of the boat, so that none of 
them were visible. They took with them arms, 
lances and harpoons, dry moss, and other convenient 
materials for ignition, and thus provided, allowed 


the boat to be driven by the wind up the §ord. 
These white boats and men, were looked upon by 
the Northmen as blocks of ice, and excited -qfi^^^um. 
Towards midnight the Greenlanders leafing the 
boat, crept to the dwellings of the Northmen, and 
fired the houses while the inmates slept, then stand- 
ing at the outside ready to meet the unfortunate 
settlers, as they attempted to escape, killed them on 
the spot. All fell, except the aged warrior Igaliko 
and his younger son, for he seeing that his comrades 
were slain, took up his child, and fled to the moun- 
tains. The Greenlanders followed ; but old as the 
chieftain was, and rendered still less able to cope 
with his pursuers by the biu'den of his child, he 
succeeded in eluding their grasp, and effected his 
escape* What afterwards became of him is un- 
known, as neither he nor his son was ever seen or 
heard of more."* 

Years passed without Greenland being thought 
of by the Danish government, which became too 
much occupied with domestic dissensions and de- 
structive wars, to regard the interests of so distant 
and unprofitable a settlement; at length in the 
reign of Christian II. (1523) Erik Walchendorff, 
Archbishop of Throndhjem, probably excited by the 
recent discoveries in the Western hemisphere, con- 
ceived the project of revisiting the neglected colony, 
and having collected all the old accounts and tradi- 
tions relating to the land, constructed a chart for 

• Arctander, as quoted by Graah in Nordiak. Tidskr. for Oldkyndig, 
B. 1. p. 165. 


the guidanoe of mariners, and proposed to iAie 6o-« 
vernment a rediscovery of the Greenland coast, and 
a resumption of the trade ; he even offered to de- 
fray the cost of the expedition from his private 
means, on being secured the profits of the trade for 
a period of ten years. But the offer was rejected, 
and Walchendorff incurring the enmity of the power- 
ful Sigbret, fell into disgrace, and died at Rome. 

Upon Walchendorff*s compilations are principally 
founded the opinions of those who have not only 
placed the Eastern but Western settlement on the 
east coast of Greenland ; an opinion general in his 
time ; and very natural, for Davis' Straits had nq^ 
then been discovered, and the configuration of the 
coast was unknown : at least no more known than 
that it was the nearest land west of Iceland, and 
that Erik the Red had steered westwards when he 
discovered the country.* 

Christian III. (1559) removed the prohibition 
established by Queen Margaret against trading to 
Greenland, and sent out ships to explore the coun* 
try, but without success ; several attempts were 
made in the succeeding reigns down to that of Fre- 
derick III. (1670) with similar results: ice ren- 
dered the east coast altogether inaccessible, and the 
ferocity of the inhabitants on the western side, 
where some of the explorers landed, and adopted 
the most unlikely means to conciliate a suspicious 
and barbarous people, precluded all possibility of 
friendly intercourse on that boundary, and now 

• Graah, p. 8. 


again, for a series of years^ Greenland was like the 
region of romance. 

Then stood forth Hans Egede, Pastor of Vaag, 
in the northern district of Norway, and with him 
commences a new era in the annals of Greenland. 
This remarkahle man was at once the re-discoverer 
of the land, and the Apostle of Christianity to its 
inhabitants. The dream of a deserted Christian 
colony on those distant shores, cut off by a stormy 
ocean, and an icy harrier, from all communication 
with their fellow countrymen in the parent state, 
and relapsed, perhaps, into Paganism from the want 
gf teachers and ministers of religion, passed in vivid 
colouring before his mind, not long a.fter he had 
taken possession of his benefice in I7O8 ; and soon 
completely engrossed his thoughts, and engaged all 
his sympathies. In I7IO, he drew up a memorial 
to the Danish Government on the subject, and ad- 
dressed letters to the Bishops of Trondhjem and 
Bergen, soliciting their support in aid of his propo- 
sition, that steps should be taken to inquire into 
and relieve the spiritual and temporal wants of the 
supposed neglected colony. The Bishops promised 
fair, but put forward^ in a strong light, the various 
dangers and difficulties with which such an expedi- 
tion must necessarily be attended : meantime the 
novel proposition became public and met with the 
greatest outcry and derision. Egede's more inti- 
mate friends, and relatives in particular, raised the 
strongest objections to the plan, and instigated his 
wife and family to turn him from his purpose ; this 


gave rise to much domestic pain, and the tears and 
remonstrances of a beloved partner, acting upon 
an affectionate heart, shook his resolution to such 
an extent that he made a powerful effort to sacrifice 
his philanthropic project to her peace of mind. 
But the 37th verse of the tenth chapter of St. 
Matthew,* he says, roused him to a sense of duty; 
his mental agitation was renewed, and he became a 
stranger to repose either by day or by night. Mean- 
time a change had come over the feelings of his 
wife, and she suddenly expressed her readiness to 
accede to his wishes. Now all difficulties appeared 
to vanish ; he looked forward with sanguine confi- 
dence to the success of his benevolent plan, and 
joyfully renewed his petitions and solicitations to 
the Bishops and superior authorities. But, now he 
was put off on the plea of deferring the matter to 
more peaceable times, and again the whole scheme 
was characterized as wild and visionary. This led 
him in 1715, to draw up a vindication of his con- 
duct, which was quite unanswerable, but still every 
effort was made to turn him from his purpose : the 
rigour of the climate, — the dangers of the voyage 
and abode in a barbarous countrv, — the madness of 
giving up a certainty for an uncertainty, — every 
argument, in short, that could by ingenuity be 
brought to bear upon the imprudence of the ex- 
pedition was carefully put before him ; nor were 
there wanting those who (inconsistent as it might 

* ** He that loyeth father or mother more than me is not worthy of 
me," &c. 


be} cast impatations of vain and worldly motives 
upon his proposed self-expatriation in so disin- 
terested a cause. 

Wearied by vain promises and calumnious reports, 
Egede at length resolved upon pleading his own 
cause in person before the King (Frederick IV.) ; 
and throwing up his benefice in I7I8, he tore him- 
self from a congregation by whom he was adored, 
and repaired to Bergen; Here he was looked upon 
as a fanatic, but heedless of the ridicule that was 
sought to be thrown upon his benevolent design, 
he- proceeded to Copenhagen, presented his memo- 
rial to the College of Missions, and received the 
gratifying intelligence that the King would take the 
subject into his gracious consideration. 

The result was that, in November, 1719, a Royal 
Ordinance was addressed to the magistrates of 
Bergen, directing them to enquire into and report 
upon the practicability and advantages of forming 
a settlement on the coast of Greenland; but no 
encouragement was derived from this enquiry, and 
Egede again beheld himself the object of scorn and 
mockery : at length by individual application he 
succeeded in persuading some merchants to enter 
into a subscription in aid of the proposed expedi- 
tion ; and one commercial gentleman of Hamburg 
undertook to famish a large proportion of the re- 
quired capital ; but this individual soon after with- 
drew from his engagement, and Egede, baffled and 
disappointed in the completion of those plans which 
appeared to be on the eve of execution, had also to 



bear the weight of the increased abnder and evil 
rumours, which his failure called forth. Th^s 
passed another year; but this ardent minister of 
religion was not disheartened: he continued his 
petitions and solicitations as well to the Govem- 
ment as to private individuals, and at length sue- 
oeeded in prevailkg upon a certain number of ^ 
Bergen merchants to come forward with a subscrip- 
tion of about 401. each : to this he added the whole 
of his own little property, about 60Z. more, making 
altogether the sum of 10,000 dollars, or S,0007. 
sterling, a capital ill proportioned to the extent of 
the undertaking ; nevertheless a ship . was bought j 
two more were also freighted for the voyage, the 
one for the whale fishery, and the other to bring 
back tidings of the expedition, and in the ensuing 
spring Egede had the unspeakable gratification of 
seeing his perseverance rewarded by the announce* 
ment that the King of Denmark approved of the 
undertaking, and appointed him chief of the colony, 
and missionary to Greenland, with a salary of 60/. 
a year, besides 40/. for his equipment.* 

Thus after ten years of protracted, discouraging 
endeavour, did this admirable minister of a philan- 
thropic faith, unawed by the terrors of a frozen zone 
and a barbarous people, — of physical privations, and 
an isolated unfriended position, far from the social 
comforts of a tranquil home, — ^go forth to spread the 
blessings of the Gospel in a heathen land I 

* OmstsBndelig og udforlig Relation angaande Den Gronlaodske Missions 
Begyndelie og Foi>t88ettelse, &c. of Hans £g«de, Klbb^Qbayii, 179& 


Egede embarked at 3ergen on the 2nd of May, 
1721> taking with him his wife and four children, 
the eldest of whom was only twelve years of age, and 
after a long and perilous voyage of eight weeks, 
reached an island at the entrance of Baal's river, in 
lat. G^"" on the western coast of Greenland, and 
called the place Good Hope. The settlers were at 
first well received, hut their preparations for re- 
maining were viewed by the natives with distrust 
and alarm, and various means were employed to 
d,ter iUr. from ihe fonaaUon of . colL/: a.e 
Angekkoks or wizards, in particular, seeing their 
influence end^angered hy the propagation of an ex- 
alted doctrine, which prostrated the pretensions of 
human power, used various spells and incantations 
to expel the colonists, and prevent the progress of 
their religious labours ; but the prudent, mild, and 
conciliating measures and demeanour of Egede en- 
abled him, after a time, to overcome these preju- 
dices» set on foot a commercial intercourse, and 
eventually to make considerable progress in the 
good work which he had so zealously imdertaken. 
The physical fatigues and privations, however, to 
which the settlers were obliged to submit, were of a 
most harassing and trying character; their chief 
dependence for food was upon ships from home, and 
the non-arrival or delay of these vessels often placed 
them on the verge of famine, and naturally created 
a mutinous and discontented spirit among those of 
his associates who were less prepared to withstand 
these trials than the pious Missionary and his 

M 2 


family. " For almost one entire year/' writes Paul 
Egede, ''rye meal porridge was our only food." 
" This year (I726) we were again in great want, 
owing to the non-arrival of the ships ; our food was 
generally the flesh of the seal, which gives no 
nourishment, so that our men could not row for an 
hour without the oars falling from their hands/** 
On all these occasions his exemplary parent exhi- 
bited a model of Christian faith and fortitude, and 
regardless of his own necessities, was alone distressed 
by the sufferings of those around him. " In this 
need," writes the son, "my dear father, who cared 
for us all, undertook a difficult journey to the south 
bay, about fifty miles (200 English miles) north of 
the colony, to see if he could there meet with some 
Dutch vessels, from which he might be able to pro- 
cure supplies, and disencumber himself of nine of 
the men. After an absence of fourteen days, he re- 
turned, having found twelve ships in the bay. They 
took the men, but could give little help to the 
twenty-one who remained. Eight men were now 
obliged to live on the allowance of one. Groats for 
seal soup were weighed out in a pair of silver scales. 

These great privations of ours sunk deep in 

my father's heart. As concerned himself, he had, 
like St. Paul, learned to be equally satisfied as well 
with plenty as with want ; but his wife and children 
lay nearest to his heart, and the murmurs and impa- 
tience of the people made this still more bitter ."t 

• Efterrftninger om Gronland af Paul Egede, Kibbenhavn, 1788. p. 31. 
t Ibid. p. 32. 


In the midst of the trymg privations here detailed, 
a ship providentially arrived from Copenhagen, 
" and now all the bread that was intended for the 
year's consumption, was devoured at breakfast/'* 
On the accession of Christian VI. of Denmark in 
1730, that monarch decided upon giving up the 
Greenland trade and mission ; and in the foUowmg 
year, sent but two ships, with orders to bring back 
all the settlers except the Minister and his family, 
and any of the sailors whom he might be able to 
persuade to stay with him : it was also distinctly 
made known that no prospect could be held out of 
any further aid from Denmark, 

But although thus threatened with abandonment 
by both his country and his King, the faithful Egede 
would not desert his Christian converts, and con- 
trary to the advice and earnest expostulations of all 
his friends, he resolved to continue with his family, 
in the land of his labours, and only begged as many 
men as were necessary for his absolute wants, toge- 
ther with provisions for one year. With great 
difficulty he prevailed upon eight men to share his 
fate; and putting his trust in that Providence 
which had safely brought him through so many 
trials, he addressed a feeling and energetic letter to 
the King, setting forth the vain efforts of all the 
exertions he had jnade, if the colony were now 
abandoned, and appealing to all the nobler feelings 
of a monarch and a fellow man. 

For one year the settlers waited in anxious un- 

* Efterretninger om Gronland af Paul Egede, Kiobenhavn, 1788, p 83, seq. 



certainty, but Christian VI. of Detttnark^ was a 
wise, $, patriotic aiid an enlightened prince> loved by 
his subjectsi and respected by his Cotitempordlies, 
and the powerful appeal of the Christian minister 
met with a favourable reception at the foot of the 
throne. The termination cf the anxious period 
brought with it the joyM announcement of the 
king's intention to perpetuate the missicm, and to 
allocate 2000 dollars annually to its support.'* 

For fifteen long years did this exemplary man 
continue to labour in the elocution of a duty which 
he had, conscientiously imposed Upon himself, and 
when, at the end of this period^ his mental suff^^- 
ingS) and shattered health, increased by a domestic 
calamity, which deprived him of a consolation and 
support that had cheered his drooping spirits under 
the severest trialsit obliged him to relBign the 

* Efterretninger, kc, p. 43. 

t This Bdvere aiBidtlon Is thuft iAenti&A^ it the hiih'ple siud e^feftdtd Iftii- 
giiage of his published Journal : — 91st December, 1724. ** It pleased the ftU- 
wise and good God, in addition to all my other misfortunes and difficulties in 
Greenland, to afflict me by taking my deai'est wife. Were it not for the 
consoling hope of a joyful re^unicAi iU God'i beaVenly klngdmb, t eould 
scarcely be reconciled to the loss of so pious and virtuous a partner. I wiU 
not say how faithful and dear she was to me, or how good and kind a mother 
to her children, but only hdw willing; mH aiSecti()nat6 she Wbii to sttbttiit to 
my wish when I had fomied the reddution hk God^ td leave friefidt and 
fatherland, and betake myself to Greenland, to teaeh Christianity to the 
ignorant inhabitants, ^or, althou^ kingf6lk and friends prised her hard, 
and indastriously represented to her, thAt M htit dWn, tuid itty Mik^, And 
that of our little children, she ought to oppose and prevent me from te- 
gaging in such a rash and foolish undertaking, yet out of love to God and 
me, she rather let herself be petsodded to apprate of my design, and like a 
true Sarah, went with her Abraham from her kinsfolk and het Other's 
house, to a strange, nay, to a barbarous and heathen land. How patiently 
and peaceably she, since that time, has withstood with me, all the labour 


charge df the mission into the hands of his sc^, it 
smMe his heart to leave his cherished conrerts ; and 
the little that he had occomplished, and the neces- 
sity for his departure, eihhittered his tfaonghts^ and 
wtBighed upoft hie mmd up to the moiAeat of his last 

Virtuous Egedel If patience s^d perseverance 
in a holy cause $-^if an ardent aild untiring sseal 
in <^e propagation of truth (-^f afi e^^ted piety ; 

uid oppoiition wkich the good Ck)d hAs g^fteeed to oppress ub, U kdown to 
many ; yea, often comforted and cheered my muid, when it was fkint and 
desponding drtnto so many dlfficultieb/'^Omsteendeiic^ogitdfOrlig Aelatbti,&iii. 
* ^^ 1796^ ittly 29, Sonday. I preached my ikrewell benkion from Esa. 
49, V. 4, thereto moved by the bad result of my in God well meant projects^ 
which have inade me so completely cast down, and hopeless of a better 
success under the nature of the j^resent existing ci^ciimstances ; yet hoping, 
at my safe return, to be able to contribute more to forward the design, than 
if I had remained in Greenland. That this, and nothing else, was my aim 
18 known to the Almighty God, and not to seek any ease, or reward for 
past trouble and labour, which cannot help me ; for as I have not come to 
Greenland for temporal gain or advantage, so do I not return for temporal 
gain, but for God's honour alone ; and the enlightenment of these poor 
ignorant people, has and shall be my only object, nay, the innermost wish 
of my heart untU my death. I must confess that the poor Greenlanders 
were not well pleased at my going away, wherefore also, it went as near, 
and nearer to my heart to leave them ; but as I saw that my remaining 
could little help them, after I was so much weakened both in mental and 
bodily power, that I could hold out no longer, I thought it my duty, at the 
moment I was about to leave, to provide, as far as lay in my power, for 
their eternal welfare, and make all necessary arrangements thereto; giving 
them over, for the rest, to God's unceasing mercy and grace, and therewith 
wish that he will awaken righteous means for their salvation, enlighten their 
darkness, and drive from their minds the clouds of ignorance, and by the 
power of his grace, finally endow them with knowledge, and a desire for 
truth. Amen." Ibid. p. 404. On his return to Copenhagen, Egede was 
placed at the head of the Committee for directing the affairs of the Green- 
land Mission, and employed the remainder of his days in teaching the 
Greenland language to young missionaries intended for that colony : he 
died in the island of Falster, A.D. 1758. 


— if an utter heedlessness of worldljr honours, 
and worldly wealth may aught avail man in that 
mysterious kingdom which is hidden from his view, 
— then surely, Egede, wilt thou have thy reward I 

The present condition of the Danish settlements 
on the West coast of Greenland offers every jUros- 
pect of civilization heing rapidly extended over that 
arctic region ; . there are thirteen colonies, fifteen 
small mercantile establishments, and ten Missionary 
Societies, four of which (New Hermhut, Lichten- 
fels, Lichtenau, and Friederichsthal) belong to the 
Moravian Brethren. The number of Europeans, 
is 150, that of the whole population 6000, and 
five or six ships trade annually to the coast.* 

* Graah's Reise, p. 12, note. 











The following selections are made from that 
division of the Antiquitates AmericansB, entitled 
" Breviores Relationes," being extracts, and short 
narratives taken from various Icelandic manuscripts 
now extant in the Royal and University Libraries 
of Copenhagen. They will be found to contain 
some interesting particulars of the traces of Irish 
settlers foimd in Iceland previous to the occupation 
of that island by the Norwegians in the 9th cen- 
tury, as weU as authentic accounts of voyages per- 
formed by the Northmen in the years 999> and 
1029 to that part of the Western hemisphere known 
to them under the name of White Man's Land, 
or Great Ireland [Huitramannalandederlrland 
it Mikla]. 




According to thb Second Ybllum Codbx, No. 61. Fol. 

Supposed to have been copied at the end of the I4dh or beginning of the I6th 

Century. Antiq. Amer, p. W2. 

Thus says the holy priest Bede, in the chronicles 
which he wrote concerning the regions of the 
earth :* that the island which is called Thule in 
the hooks, lies so far in the north part of the 
world, that there came no day in the winter, when 
the night is longest, and no night in summer, when 
the day is longest. Therefore think learned men 
that it is Iceland which is called Thule,t for there 
are many places in that land, where the sun sets 
not at night, when the day is longest, and in the 

* De natura rerum et ratione temporam. Cap. 31, Colon. 1537. Fol. 

t The locality of Thule is still a vexata questio with Antiquaries, the 
south coast of Norway, and north and north-west coast of Scotland having 
been each assigned for its position, as well as Iceland. Bede speaks of 
Thule according to the relation of Py theas of Marseilles, Solinus, and Pliny, 
but makes it only six days' sail from Britain, which ill accords with the 
then state of navigation and nautical knowledge. Saxo would seem to refer 
Thule to the district of Tellemark on the south coast of Norway ; for in enu- 
merating the warriors at the battle of Braavalle, he speaks of those from 
Thyle, which name is still to be found in that district : again, the particu- 
lars given of Thule by the Irish monk Dicuil, who wrote in the year 825, 
identify it with Iceland, and it seems probajble that different parts of the 
North received the name, which, in the Icelandic language, signifies, end — 
extreme boundary (till) according as discovery was extended. Thule has 
also been derived from the Irish word thuaty which signifies North. See 
O'Brien's Irish-English Dictionary in voce Tuat. Island's Opdagelse, &c. af 
N. M. Petersen, N. T. O. B. I. 


same maimer, where the sun camiot he seen by day, 
when the night is longest. But the holy priest 
Bede died DCCXXXV years after the birth of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, more than a hundred and 
twenty years before Iceland was inhabited by the 
Northmen. But before Iceland was colonized from 
Norway, men had been there whom the Northmen 
called Papas.* They were Christians ; for after 
them were found Irish books, bells, and croziers,t 
and many other things, from whence it could be 
seen that they were Christian men, and had come 
from the west over the sea :t English books§ also 
shew that, in that time, there was intercourse be- 
tween the two countries. 

* Papa. The clerical order were called Papas by some Latin writera. 
See Du Fresnes Glossary ad script, mediae et infimsB Latinitatis, and thus 
the Northmen may haTO adopted the word from southern nations, '* timi- 
4i|s preegustes pecula Papas/' Juv. Sat. ir. Du ^resnep shews also that the 
terpi was applied to Psedagogus. 

t Bsekr irskar^bjollur ok baglar. 

X Til yestan um haf. Ireland lying to the west of Norway, from whence 
the Icelanders had emitted, was generally spoken of by them with refer- 
ence to their fatherland, and for the same reason they called the Irish 
*' westmen." According to a learned enquirer into the origin of the Irish, 
the literal meaning of the word Ireland is Westland, the Celtic syllable iar 
or er meaning the toest. This, however, is disputed by O'Brien, who main- 
tains that the original interpretation of iar is ''after," or ''behind," and 
considers Eirin to be compounded of i and mn, the geiiitiye of ere, iron, 
signifying the island of iron or mines, for which Ireland had formerly been 
famed, and hence ranked by antient writers among the Cassiterides. See 
Wood's Inquiry, concerning the primitiye inhabitants . of Ireland, p« 1.; 
O'Brien's Irish Diet, in voce Eirin. 

§ The strongest testimony on this point is given by Dicuil, in a work en- 
titled De mensura orbis terrse, wherein he shews that Iceland had been 
visited by Irish ecclesiastics in 795, and the Faroe islands in 725. See infra, 
and Antiq. Amer^ p. 204, note a. 



No. 64, FoL 

At that time was Iceland covered with woods, 
hetween the mountains and the shore. Then were 
here Christian people, whom the Northmen called 
Papas, but they went afterwards away, because 
they would not be here amongst heathens ; and left 
after them Irish books, and bells, and croziers, 
from which could be seen that they were Irish- 
men.* But then began people to travel much here 
out from Norway, until King Harold forbade it, 
because it appeared to him that the land had begun 
to be thinned of inhabitants. 

* Mennirscir. 



No. 53, Fol. 

But before Iceland was colonized by the North- 
men, the men were there whom the Northmen 
called Papas; they were Christians, and peopte 
think that they came from the west over the sea, 
for there was found after them Irish books, and 
bells, and croziers, and many more things from 
which it could be seen that they were Westmen j^ 
such were found eastwards in Papey, and Papj^li : 
it is also mentioned in English books that in that 
time, was intercourse between the countries. 

The particulars given of Thule by the Irish nionk Dicuil, 
who wrote in the year 825, offer a remarkable confirmation 
of the Icelandic manuscripts respecting the residence of the 
Irish ecclesiastics in that region, which, in his work, is 
evidently identified with Iceland. He speaks of Thule as 
an uninhabited island, which, however, in his lifetime, 
about the year 795, had been visited by some monks, toith 
whom he himself had spoken^ and who had once dwelt 
upon the island from the first of February to the first of 
August. They denied the exaggerated statements that had 
been made by antient writers respecting the perpetual ice, 
continued day from the vernal to the autumnal equinox, 
and corresponding interval of night, but stated that a day's 
journey further northward, the sea was really frozen, and 


that with respect to the length of the days and nights, at> 
and a few days before and after the summer solstice, the 
sun sank so little below the horizon during the night, that 
one could pursue their ordinary occupations as well as by 
day light. The author further describes several islands 
lying in the north part of the British ocean, and which, 
with a fair wind, might be reached from the north of 
Britain in two days and a night; and states that here 
nearly a hundred years before^ namely a. d. 725, hermits 
from Ireland had taken up their abode, but, disturbed by the 
roving Northmen, had since departed, leaving the place 
uninhabited.^ These islands are further described as having 

* For the satisfaction of those readers whose national feelings may per- 
haps lead them to take more than ordinary interest in this well authenticated 
record of the early migration of the Irish to these remote islands, in the 
Northern sea, the original passage from Dicuil has been transcribed : — 

'* Trigesimus nunc anniu est a quo nuntiaverunt mihi clerici* qui a kl. 
(kalendis) febrvarii usque kl. (kalendls) augusti in ilia insula (Thule> man- 
serant quod, non solum in eestivo solstitii, sed in die bus circa illud, in yes- 
pertina hora, occidens sol abscondit se quasi trans parvulum tumulum : ita 
ut, nihil tenebrarum in minimo spatio ipso fiat ; sed quicquid homo operari 
voluerit, vel pediculosus de camisia abstrahere tanquam in prassentia soils 
potest: et, si in altitudine montium ejus fuissent, forsitan nunquam sol 
absconderetur ab illis. In medio illius minimi temporis, medium noctis fit 
in medio orbis terrse ; et idcirco mentientes falluntur qui circum eam con- 
cretum fere mare scripserunt, et qui a vernali eequinoctio usque ad autumnale 
continum diem sine nocte, atque ab autumnali, versa vice, usque ad vernale 
Kquinoctium assiduam quidem noctem, dum illi navigantes in naturali 
tempore magni frigoris eam intrabant, ac manentes in ipsa dies noctesque 
semper, prseter solstitii tempus, alternatim habebant : sed navigatione unius 
diei ex ilia ad boream congelatum mare invenerunt." 

*' Sunt alisB insulsB mnltee in septentrionali Brittanise oceano» quee a sep- 
tentrionalibus Brittannise insulis duorum dierum ac noctium recte naviga- 
tione, plenis velis, assiduo feliciter vento adire queunt. Aliquis prbt. (pres- 
byter) religiosus mihi retulit quod, in duobus sestivis diebus et una inter- 
cedente nocte, navigans in duoram navicula transtrorum in unam illarum 
introivit. lUse insulse sunt alls parvulse, fere cunctee simul angustis dis 
antes fretis, in quibus in centum ferme annis, heremitcB ex nostris Scotia 
namgawtes hahUaverunt, Sed, sicut a principle mundi desertce semper 



upon them a great number of sheep, which circumstance 
leads to the conclusion that they were the FarcE islands, 
the name of which is known to be derived from the original 
Icelandic term Fareyjar or sheep islands, 

fueranty ita nunc, cauMi latronum Normanoorum, vacueB anachofttisy plense 
innumerabilibos ovibus, ac diversis generibus multis nimis maiinamm 
avium. Nanqaam eos insolas in libris aaetorum meinoratas Invenlmos." — 
Dicnili Liber de mensura orbis Teme ex duobus codd. MSS. BibliotheesB 
Impeiialis, nunc primum in lucem editas a Car. Athen. Walclcenaer. Pa^ 
risiU M.DiCCCVII. 



A. D. 982. 

From the Landndniaboh, No, 107, Fol. collated with aceounta of the same 
transactions in Hauksbok^ No. 105, FoL Melabdk, No, 106 and 112, Fol* 
and other MSS, in the Ame-Magn<Ban collection, 

Ulf the squinter, son of Hogna the white, took 
all Reykjanes, between Thorka^ord and Hafrafell ; 
he married Bjorg, daughter to Eyvind the Eastman, 
sister to Helge the lean ; their son was Atli the 
red, who married Thorbjorg, sister to Steinolf 
the hiunble ; their son was Mar of Holum, who 
married Thorkatla, daughter of Hergil Ne- 
prass ; their son was Ari ;* he was driven by a 
tempest to White Man's Land, which some call 
Great Ireland ;t it lies to the west in the sea, 
near to Vinland the Good, and VI days' sailing 
west from Ireland.^ From thence could Ari not 

* Ari Marson is meutioned in the Kristni Saga, C. 1, p. 6, amongst the 
principal chiefs in Iceland in the year 981, at which time Bishop Fridrick 
and Thorvald Eodranson came there to promulgate Christianity. He, and 
his kinsmen are highly lauded in several Icelandic historical works [Sogu- 
J^sedtir Islandiga, Holum, 1756, 4, p. 105. — FostbraBdra Saga, C. 1, p. 6.] 
His father Mar, and mother Katia figure in an antient poem, which is still 
preserved among the common traditions of the Icelanders, under the name 
of Kotludraumr or Eatla's dream, and may be seen in the Amse-Magnsean 
collection. No. 164, 8vo. Antiq, Amer. p. 210, note a, 

t '^Til Hvitramannalands, I>at kalla sumir Irland ed mikla." Antiq. 
Amer. p. 211. 

X " VI deegra sigling vestr frd Irlandi.*' Professor Rafn is of opinion 
that the figures VI, have arisen through mistake or carelessness of the 
transcriber of the original manuscript which is now lost, and were erroneously 
inserted instead of XX, XI, or perhaps XV, which would better correspond 
with the distance ; this mistake might have easily arisen from a blot or 
defect in that part of the original MSS. Antiq, Amer. p 447. 

N 2 


get away, and was there baptized. This story first 
told Rafu the Limerick merchant,* who had long 

* Hlymrekefari, a surname eyidently given here to Rafn, in consequence 
of his trading to Limerick, with which as well as the other principal Irish 
sea-ports, the Northmen, called by the Irish, DaneSt were accnstomed to 
hold frequent communication from the end of the 8tb ceatur^r. 3i^Wiii> 
Waterford^and Limerick are called in the Icelandic, or old northern tongue, 
D5^flin, VsBdraflordr, and Hlimrek, which has probably led Cambrensls and 
others to attribute the foundation of these cities to the Northmen, Ame- 
lanus, Sitaracus, and Ivarns, or Anlaf, Sitric, and Ivar, in the year 864, 
when they made a hostile expedition to the country, and settled. in then 
three towns respectively ; but O'Halloran shews that Dublin, Waterford, 
and Limerick were cities of note long* before that period, and that the trade 
of Dublin, in particular, was so great at the close of the 2nd century, that 
a bloody war broke out between the Monarch Con, and ttije King of Munster, 
to determine to whom the duties upon exports and imports should belcHig. 
Hist. Ireland, Vol. III. p. 178. Moore, howerer, gives Sitric the credit of 
founding Waterford. [II. p. 87.] although its original Irish name of Port 
Lairge, would seem to imply a place of some commercial importance before 
the adoption of its northern title, from which the. name of Waterford Is evi- 
dently derived. [VsedraQord, the fordable frith.] Limerick, O'Halloran tells 
us, was so noted for its commerce from the earliest times, that It is never 
mentioned by antient Iris^h writers without the epithet Long, a ship, and we 
find Ceallachan Caisil, King of Monster, calling it LuimneachnaLuingas,or 
Limerick of the ships. (Hist. Jr. I. p. 15d, and 111. p. 178.) According to Arch- 
bishop Usher, the first invasion of the Danes or Northmen, took place about the 
year 797, when the Annals of Ulster notice a descent on the isle of Recbrin or 
Raghlin, north of the county Antrim, and their incursions continued, with little 
intermission, until their final defeat by Brien Boirumhe or Bcmtu, in the cele» 
brated battle of Clontarff, April 23, 1014. The intervals of pea^e were 
naturally applied to commercial intercourse between the two nations, and 
the Northmen became established not only at the principal sea-ports, but 
in the interior of the country. Hence we find Irish names of persons in 
Iceland, and names of places, formed of Northern elements in Ireland ; the 
Icelandic Niel or Njdil is evidently the Irish Neil; Kjallacb, Ceallacb; 
Kjaran, Kieran ; Bjarni, Bamy, &c. Names of places are of a mixed 
origin : to the Iri^h Laighean, Munhain, Ulladh, the Northmen added 
their stadr (place), which afterwards become ster, and thus arose Leinster, 
Munster, Ulster, &c. See De -^Idste, toge fra Norden til Irland of N. H. 
Petersen, ap. Annaler for Nordlsk Oldkyndighed, 1836, p. 2-3. The 
general name of Danes could hardly have arisen from the invaders being 


Kved at Limerick in Ireland,^ Thus said [alsoj 
ThorkeD Gellerson,t that Icelanders had stated^ 
who had heard Thorfinn Jarl of the Orkneys! re- 
late, that Ari was recognised in White Man's Land, 
and could not get away from thence, but was there 
much respected. Ari married Thorgerd daughter 
to Alf of Dblum, whose sons were Thorgils, Gud- 

conflidered Danisb, as they were a mixed race of Danes^ Norwegians 
Swedes, Saxons, Frisians, and other Gothic tribes from the Cimbric peniusula 
and shores of the Baltic, and were distinguished by the Irish accord- 
ing to the colour of their hair or complexion, as Fionne Gaily the white 
strangers, tmd Ikibh OttU, the black strangers (hence probably Fingal and 
DonegsiT) ; the t«rm Dane, which was tomttimes applied, is, therefore, more 
likely to baTB b^en expressive of the character than the country of th? in* 
▼aders, and to be derived from the Irish words Dana, bold, impetuous, and 
Fydr, man : he^ce Danroiu, the impetuous river, as the Danube is called in 
antient Celtic. See CHalloran, V< III. p. 149, and O'Brien's Irish Diet, in 
voce Dana. r 

* The pedigree of Rafn tlie Limerick merchant or Oddson, is given in ttj^ 
Liindndmab6k, 1I# 81, p. 98, from which it appears that he wa^^ descended 
ftvm Duke Rolf ot Noihpray, and on the maternal side, from Stein6f the 
bumble, b^ing thus connected as well with Ari Marson as Leif Erikson 
[See Qenealog. Tab. No. 1, App.] and lived about the middle or beginning 
of the 1 1th century. In the Sturlunga Saga, I. c. d, he is named amongst 
tfhe ancestors of Skard-Snorri, from whom the most distinguished Icelanders 
trace their descent, and it is probable was the same individual known some- 
times by the name of Bafn the Red [Rafn hinn raudi], who accompanied 
Sigurd, king of the Orkneys to Ireland in 1014, and was present at the 
battle of Clontarff, Ap. 23, of the same year. Antiq. Am. p. 211. note a. 

t Thorkell Gellerson was great-grandson of Ari Marson, and uncle to Ari 
Frode, the writer of this narrative. He resided at Helgafell in Iceland, 
and was -well known as a wealthy, honourable, and brave yeoman, who, de- 
sirous of knowledge, had travelled much iu his youth. He related many 
things to his kinsman Ari Frode, who appears to have had the fullest con- 
fidence in his statements, and often gives his express words, together with 
his name, as a security for the truth of the narrative. Antiq. Amer. p. 212, 
note a. 

i Thorfinn Sigurdson, b. 1008, d. 1064, was connected with the immediate 
ancestors of Ari Marson. See Qenealog. Tab. No. 1, Appendix. 


leif and Illugi : this is the family of Reykjaness. 
Jorund hight a son of Ulf the squinter ; he married 
Thorhjorg Knarrarbringa ; their daughter was 
Thjodhild, who married Erik the Red ; their son 
[was] Leif the Lucky of Greenland. Jorund 
hight the son of Atli the Red ; he married Thordis, 
daughter of Thorgeir Suda ; their daughter was 
Otkatla, who married Thorgill Kollson. Jorund 
was also father to Snorri. 



co:rroborativb of the preceding. 

B. From the Manuscript Codex, 770, c. 8vo. 

Now are there, as is said, south from Greenland, 
which is inhabited, deserts, uninhabited places, and 
ice-bergs,* then the Skrselings, then Markland, 
then Vinland the Good ; next, and somewhat be- 
hind,t lies Albania, which is White Man's Land ; J 
thither was sailing, formerly, from Ireland ; there 
Irishmen§ and Icelanders recognised Ari the son of 
Mar and Katla of Reykjaness, of whom nothing 
had been heard for a long time, and who had been 
made a Chief there by the inhabitants. 

* Probably Labrador, or Great Helluland (Helluland it Mikla), see p. 
88, note §. 

t Nokkut til bakka. 
X Hvitramannaland. 
§ Yrskir. 

184 MINOR NARRATlVfiaj n 




GRMr IRfilAND. ^^ .S.»M 

A.D. 999. 

The following remarkable narrative is taken 
from the Eyrbyggja Saga, or early annals of that 
district of Iceland lying around the promontory of 
SnsBfells on the western coast. It is clearly shewn 
by Bishop Miiller* to have been written not later 
than the beginning of the 13th century, and has been 
already brought before the favourable notice of the 
British public by Sir Walter Scott.t With this 
Saga the following MSS. have been carefully col- 
lated : — 

1 — 2. Liber Chartaceus, No. 448, 449, 4to. being 
a copy of the best vellum codex in the Resenianian 

3. Copy of parchment codex in the Guelpher- 

* Sagabibliothek, I. p. 197. 

t Abstract of Eyrbyggja Saga. Miscell. Prose Works, Vol. V. 8vo. Edin* 
and Lond. 1834, and Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, 4to. Edinb. 181 4, 
The learned Thorkelin, Regius Professor of Antiquity, and keeper of the 
Archives in the University of Copenhagen, published an edition of this 
history in 1787, executed at the expence of Suhm, the munificent patron of 
Northern literature. See Eyrbyggja Saga, quam mandante et impenses fa- 
ciente Perill. P. F. Suhm, versione lectionum varietate ac indice rerum 
auxit Grimr Johnson Thorkelin, Prof. Philos. Extraord. Hafniee, 1787. 


bytean Library, carefully executed by Arne Mag- 
nussen himself. 

4. Vellum fragment, No. 309, 4to. written in 
the 14th centjury. - . , 

5. Two vellum fragments noted 3 and 4, under 
No. 4456, 4to. written about the beginning of the 
15fh centiirv. 

Besides sixteen paper MSS. viz. : — No. 158, 
126, 125, 123, 124, 129, ISO, 131, FoL; 441, 442, 
443, 444, 445, 446, 447, 4to. and 112, 8vo. 

• :.i 

\ i ' 

I . f . ■ K^ ' 

• •< ■ 

1- / • -, 1 





A.D. 999. 

15. BoRK the fat and Thordis Surs daughter 
had a daughter that Thurid hight, and she was 
married to Thorbjorn the fat, who lived at Froda ; 
he was son of Orm the lean, who had taken and 
cultivated the farm of Froda. Thurid, daughter of 
Asbrand of Kamb in Breidavik had he formerly 
married ; she was sister to Bjom Breidvikinga- 
happa, who is hereafter mentioned in the Saga, 
and to Arnbjorn the strong : her sons by Thorb- 
jorn were Ketill the Champion, Gunnlaug and 

22. Now shall something be told about Snorri 
Godi,* that he took up the process about the mur- 
der of Thorbjorn his brother-in-law. He also took 
his sister home to Helgafell, because there was a 
report, that Bjorn, son of Asbrand from Kamb, 
began to come there to inveigle her 

* Oodi, Priest of the temple and prefect of the province, from Ood 
the Deity, being supposed to hold the office by divine appointment, see In- 
troduc. Snorri Godi occupies a conspicuous place in Icelandic history 
from the end of the 10th to the beginning of the 11th century ; his real name 
was Thorgrim Thorgrimson, but being rather unmanageable when a child, 
he obtained the cognomen of Snerrir, from the Icelandic word Snerrinn 
pugnacious, which afterwards became Snorri. Mliller. Sag. Bib. V. I. 
He was bom in 964, and died in 1031, and hence it follows that the events 
recorded in this and the following narrative, where he is mentioned as an 
active participator, must have occurred previous to the year 1030. Various 
orthography has been followed by English writers with regard to the name, 
some calling it Snorro and others Snorre, but the final i seems to accord 
more with the Icelandic root. See Genealog. Tab. No.^IV. App. 


29. Thorodd, hight a man from Medallfellstrand : 
an honourable man ; he was a great merchant, and 
owned a trading ship. Thorodd had made a trad- 
ing voyage westwards to Ireland,* to Dublin. At 
that time had Jarl Sigurd Lbdversson of the Ork- 
neys,t sway to the Hebrides, and all the way west- 
ward to Man : he imposed a tribute on the inha- 
bitants of Man, and when they had made peace, the 
Jarl left men behind him to collect the tribute j it 
was mostly paid in smelted silver ; but the Jarl 
sailed away northwards to the Orkneys. But when 
they who had waited for the tribute, were ready for 
sailing, they put to sea with a south-west wind; 
but when they had sailed for a time the wind 
changed to the south-east and east, and there arose 
a great storm, and drove them northwards under 
Ireland, and the ship broke there asunder upon an 
uninhabited island. And when they had gotten 
there, came, by chance, the Icelander Thorodd, on 
a voyage from Dublin. The Jarl's men called out to 
the merchantment to help them. Thorodd put out a 
boat, and went into it himself, and when it came up, 
the Jarl's men begged Thorodd to help them, and 

* Kaupferd vestr til Irlands. Here we see the nature of the voyage dto- 
tinctly stated, and Ireland spoken of as lying westwards from Iceland, 
which evidently arose from its position with regard to Norway, the father- 
laud of the settlers ; hence also, Vestmannaeyjar (Westman's Islands) on 
the south coast of Iceland, where some Irish captives took refuge after the 
murder of their northern task-master. See Petersen in Annal. for Nord. 
Oldk. 2836. Comp. p. 174, note. 

t The Orkneys are called in northern language Orkneyjar, from OrJta^ a 
kind of seal, which is described in Speculum Regale, p. 176-177. Sigurd 
fell in battle in Ireland, 1013. Antiq. Amer. p. 218, note b. 

t Kaupmenn, Comp. p. 180. 


offered him money to take them h6me to Sigttrd 
Jarl in the Orkneys ; but Thorodd thoiight he 
could not do that, because he was bound for fcelaiidi) 
but they pressed him hard, for they thoiight' it 
concerned their goods and freedom, thstt* thfey 
should not be left in Ireland or the Htbrid^di 
where they before had waged war, and it entiefd'Sb 
that he sold them the ship^s boat, and took thfet^foite 
a great part of the tribute j they steered then *rith 
the boat to the Orkneys; but Thorodd ' mailed 
without the boat to Iceland, and came' to* t^ ^oftith 
of the land ; then steered he westwards, iWd sailtki 
into Breidai^^rd, arid landed, with all 6ti' board, at 
Dogurdarness, And went in aututiaii to wiiiter with 
Siiorri Godi at HeJgafell; he wai^ sihtie then* edited 
Thorodd the tribute:buyer. This happened a little 
after the murder of Thorbjiim the fat. The' 'sitae 
winter was at Helgafell Thurid the sister of TSnorti 
Godi, whom Thorbjom the fett had married. 
Thorodd asked Snorri Godi to give him Thurid his 
sister in marriage ; and because he was rich, and 
Snorri knew him froin a good side, and saw that 
she required some one to i^ana^e Jie:^ affairs,— ^vyith 
all this together revived: Snorri Godi to ri^^ 
the woman, find tjheir marriage was , held tl^e^ \n 
tljLQ winter at ,!jH[elgafeU. ^ But in tl^e foflpwing 
spring Thorodd ; betook himself to F^da, axjwj bie- 
came a good and upfight yeoman.* But. so soou as 
Thurid came to Froda, began Bjorn 
visit there, and there was spread a general report 

» Bondi. 


that be and Thurid had unlawful intercourse; then 
began Thorodd to complain about his visits, but 
dkd not object to them seriously. At that time 
dwelled Thorer Vidlegg at Arnarhvol, and his sons 
Qm and Val were grown up, and very promising 
mes9^ ; they reproached Thorodd for submitting to 
Buoh disgrace as Bjorn put upon him, and offered 
Thorodd their assistance, if he would forbid the 
visits of Bjorn. It happened one time that Bjorn 
catne tof roda, and he sat talking with Thurid. 
Thorodd used always to sit within when Bjorn was 
there, hut now was he no where to be seen. Then 
said^ Thurid: "Take care of thy walks, Bjorn, for 
I suspect that Thorodd thinks to put an end to thy 
yj^it^s hei:e» apd It looks to me a$ if they had gone 
out. to fall upon thee by the way^ and he thinks they 
will not be met by equal force/' " That can well 
be," said Bjorn, and chaunted this stave : — 

O ! Goddess of the arm- ring gold* 
Let this bright day the longest hold 
On earth, for now I linger here 
In my Iotc's arms, but soon must fear 
These joys will vanish, and her breath 
Be raised to mourn ufy early death. 

Thereafter took Bj<5m his arms, and went away, 
intending to go home ; but when he had gotten up 
the Digramula, sprang five men upon him ; this 
was Thorodd and two of his servants, and the sons 
of Thorer Vidlegg. They seized Bjorn, but he 
defended himself well and manfully ; Thorer 's sons 

• Jdr(fy the earth, one of the many wires of Odin and mother of Thor. 

**The eon of earth 
Is ncfVr arrived — 
Why dost thou rage so, Thor !" 

Mgin Feast, Eld. Edd. Pigott's translatp. 254. 


pressed in hardest upon him, and wounded him, but 
he was the death of both of them. After that 
Thorodd went away with his men, and was a little 
wounded, but they not. Bjorn went his way until 
he came home, and went into the room ; the woman 
erf the house* told a maid servant to attend him ; 
and when she came into the room with a light, then 
saw she that Bjorn was very bloody ; she went then 
in, and told his father Asbrand that Bjorn was 
come home bloody ; Asbrand went into the room, 
and asked why Bjorn was bloody ; ** or have you, 
perhaps, fallen in with Thorodd ?" Bjorn answered 
that so it was. Asbrand then asked how the busi- 
ness had ended. Bjorn chaunted : — 

Easier far it is to fondle^ 
In the arms of female fair, 
(Vidlegg's sons I both have slain) 
Than with valiant men to wrestle, 
Or tamely purchased tributet bear. 

Then bound Asbrand his wounds, and he became 
quite restored. Thorodd begged Snorri Godi to 
manage the paatter about Thorer's sons* murder, 
and Snorri had it brought before the court of Thors- 
ness ; but the sons of Thorlak of Eyra assisted 
Breidvikinga in this affair, and the upshot was, that 
Asbrand went security for his son Bjorn, and under- 
took to pay a fine for the murder. But Bjorn was 
banished for three years, and went away the same 
summer. During the same summer Thurid of 
Froda was delivered of a male child, which re- 

* Husfreyja — Dan, Hausfru— 5wcrf. Husfru — Ger» — Hausfrau — literally 
the woman or lady of the house, and meaning, in this case, Bjorn's mother. 

t In allusion to Thorodd's transaction with the crew of Sigurd. See ante 
p. 188, from which he obtained the surname of" Tribute-buyer.** 


ceived the name of Kjartan ; he grew up at Froda, 
and was soon large and promising. 

Now when Bjbrn had crossed the sea [to Nor- 
way], he bent his way southwards to Denmark, and 
therefrom south to Jomsborg.* Then was Pahaa- 
toki chief of the Jomsvikings. Bjorn joined their 
band, and was named Champion.t He was in 
Jomsborg when Styrbjorn the strong took the castle. 
Bjorn was also with them in Sweden, when the 
Jomsvikings aided Styrbjorn ; he was also in the 
battle of Fyrisvall, where Styrbjorn fell,t and escaped 
in the wood with other Jomsvikings. And so long 
as Palnatoki lived,§ was Bjijm with him, and was 

* Jomsborg (or Join's castle), called also Julin, was built by the Danish 
King Harold filaatand, on one of the mouths of the Oder, on the coast of 
Pomeranla. It was afterwards governed by Palnatoki, a powerful chief of 
Fionia (Fynen), to whom Burislaus, King of the Wends, fearing his power, 
gave the neighbouring territory, on condition that he would defend the mo- 
narch's kingdom from foreign aggression. Palnatoki accepted the condi- 
tions, and became chief of a community of pirates called Jomsmkingr, who 
were distlngnished, even in those days of brutal valour, for extraordinary 
personal bravery, and contempt of death. He established the strictest laws, 
and exacted the' most rigid tests from those who sought to enter the society : 
the rank of Kappl or champion given to Bjorn Asbraudson, was, therefore, 
the strongest evidence of his eminent qualities as a warrior. Antiq. Amer. 
p. 227, note a. — Jomsvikinga Saga ; and for the particular locality of Joms- 
borg, which is supposed to be the present Wollin, see De Danskes Toge, til 
Venden of N. M. Petersen ap. Annaler forNordisk Oldkyndighed, Kjoben- 
havn, 1837. p. 235—238. t Kappi. 

t Styrbjorn was the son of Olaf who reigned in Sweden jointly with Erik 
the Victorious, but inconsequence of aspiring to the throne and the murder 
of a courtier named Aki, fell into disgrace, and retired, with sixty ships 
given him by Erik, to Jomsborg, of which he became governor. Afterwards 
he made an expedition to Sweden in conjunction with Harald Gormson, and 
fell in battle against the King his uncle, in the plain of Fyrisvold near Upsala. 
A.D. 984. See Antiq. Amer. p. 227, note, — Fommanna Sogtir, Vol. V, — tattr 
Styrbjarnar Svia kappa in Cod. Flat., and Jomsvikinga Saga, MiiI]er,Vol. 3. 

$ Palnatoki died A.D. 993. 


looked upon as a distinguished man, and very l)rave 
in all times of trial. 

40 The same summer* came the hrothers 

Bjorn and Ambj<5m out to Iceland, to Raunhaf- 
narsos. Bjorn was afterwards called the Champion 
of Breidavik. f Ambjorn had brought much money- 
out with him, and immediately, the same summer 
that he came, bought land at Bakke in Raunhofn. 
Arnbjorn made no display, and spoke little on most 
occasions, but was, however, in all respects, a very 
able man. Bjiim, his brother, was, on the other 
hand, very pompous, when he came to the couutry, 
and lived in great style, for he had accustomed him- 
self to the court usages of foreign chiefs ; he was 
much handsomer than Ambjbm, and in no parti- 
cular less able, but was much more skilled in martial 
exercises, of which he had given proofs in foreign 
lands. In the summer, just after they had arrived, 
a great meeting of the people was held north of the 
heath, under Haugabret, near the mouth of the 
Froda ; and thither rode all the merchants, in co- 
loured garments ;t and when they had come to the 

* About the year 996. Antiq. Amer. p. 228. note a, 

t Breidviklngakappu 

t '' A similar fancy for party-coloured dresses,'' says Moore, '* existed 
among the Celts of Gaul, and Biodorus describes the people as wearing 
garments flowered with all varieties of colours — xP^/^^^* vavroSavoiQ 
SirivditTfievovs, Lib. 5. The braccse or breeches was so called from being 
plaided, the word brae signifying in Celtic anything speckled or party-co- 
loured." According to O'Brien the Hibemo-Celtic word is breac. In the 
reign of the Irish monarch Aehy, a law was enacted regulating the number 
of colours by which the prarments of the different classes of society were to 
be distinguished, and from these party-coloured dresses worn by the antient 
Scots or Irish, is derived the present national costume [still called brekan,'] 
of their descendants in North Britain. Hist. Ir. I. pp. 109, 110,— O'Brien, 
Jr. Die. in voce breac, Lluyd. Arch. Brit. 


ineiEitihg, was ttiere many people assembled. There 
was Thurid, the lady* of Froda, and Bjorn went up, 
aiiJi spqke to her, and no one objected to this, for it 
'was ttought likely that their discourse would last 
loiig, since they, for such a length of time, had not 
seen each other. There arose that day a fight, and 
pne 6i the inen from the northern mountains received 
a deadly wound, and was carried down under a bush 
oii the bank of the river ; much blood flowed from 
tl^e wopiiidi so that there was a pool of blood in the 
bus'lb. 'There was tbe boy Kjarfan, son of Thurid 
o^'^l^rbda ; lie had a smau axe'm'ty hind ; he ran 
to tne busli, and Hipped ili'e axe in the Wood. W Hien 
ihe men from tli6 southern mounfams jrode south- 
wards from the'meeti*ng, jThord Blig' asked, JBjorn 
llow the' discourse tad' turiied bui betwixt him aiid 
tlfhurid of Frocli.' 'Bjorn said' thai he was well con- 
tenied therewiili. * Then ksked Tliord, wliether he 
had that day seen, the lad l^jjir|;an, her an^ Thorodd's 
united son. ** Him saw I,'*' said Bjbrn..' **WTiat do 
you think of him ?^* quotli Thord, again. , Theu 
chaunted Bjorn this stave : 

. ■■■ I • 

/ > 

*' A stripling lo ! 
WitkfearftiL63r«6 - 
And womsa's image. 
Downwards ran 
To the wolfs iair^— 
The people say 
The youth knows not 
His Viking lather." 



Tbord said: <*What will Thorodd say when he 
hears of your boy ?'* Then sung Bjbm : 

<• Then will the noble lady* 
When pressing to her breast 
The image of his father 
In her fair arms to rest, 
Admit Thorodd's oonjecture, 
For me she ever loved, 
And ever shall I bear her 
Affection deep and proved.*' 

Thord said : " It will be better for ye, not to have 
much to do with each other, and that thou turn thy 
thoughts from Thurid/' "That is surely a good 
counsel," replied Bjbm, " but far is that from my 
intention, although it makes some difference when I 
have to do with such a man as Snorri her brother/' 
**Thou wilt be sorry for thy doings," said Thord, 
and therewith ended the talk between them. Bjbm 
went home now to Kamb, and took upon himself 
the management of the place, for his father was then 
dead. In thie winter he began his trips over the 
heath, to visit Thurid ; and although Thorodd did 
not like it, he yet saw that it was not easy to find a 
remedy, and he thought over with himself, how 
dearly it had cost him, when he sought to stop their 
intercourse ; but he saw that Bjbrn was now much 
stronger than before. Thorodd bribed, in the 
winter, Thorgrim Galdrakin to raise a tempest 
against Bjbrn, when he was crossing the heath. 
Now it came to pass one day, that Bjbm came to 
Froda, and in the evening, when he was going home, 
was there thick weather, and some rain ; and he set 


off very late ; but when he had gotten up on the 
heath, the weather became cold, and it snowed ; and 
so dark that he saw not the way before him. After 
that arose a drift of snow, with so much sleet, that 
he could scarcely keep his legs ; his clothes were 
now frozen, for he was before wet through, and he 
strayed about, so that he knew not where to turn ; 
hit, at night, upon the edge of a cave, went in, and 
was there for the night, and had a cold lodging ; 
then sung Bjom : — 

** Fair one ! who dost bring 
Vestments to the weary,* 
Little know*8t thou where- 
Hid in cavern dreary, 
I now shelter seek; 
He that once on ocean 
Boldly steered a bark, 
Now lies without motion 
In a cavern dark." 

And again he chaunted : 

" The swan's cold regiont I have crossed 
All eastwards with a goodly freight, 
For woman's love, by tempest tost 
And seeking danger in the fight : 
But now no woman's couch I tread, 
A rocky cavern is my bed." 

Bjbrn remained three days in the cave, before the 
weather moderated ; but on the fourth day came he 
home from the heath to Kamb. He was much ex- 

* To the women of the Northern family was more particularly entrusted 
the duties of hospitality, among which was included that of bringing dry 
garments to the traveller who had suffered from the tempestuousness of the 
weather. Antiq, Amer. p. 236, note a. 

f Svana-fold, the region of swans, i.e. water, poet, the sea. Antiq. 
Amer. p. 237, note a. 



hausted. The servants asked him where he had 
been during the tempest — Bjom sang : 

*' Well my deeds are known 
Under Styrbj6rn*8 banner, 
Steel-clad Erik slew 
Gallant men in battle ; 
Now on mountain wild, 
Met by magic shower. 
Outlet could not find 
From the WitchcB power."* 

Bjom was now at home for the winter. In 
spring his brother Ambjom fixed his residence at 
Bakka in Raunhbfti, but Bjorn lived at Kamb, and 
kept a splendid house 

47. The same summer bade Thorodd the tribute- 
buyer his brother-in-law Snorri Godi to a feast at 
home at Froda, and Snorri betook himself thither 
with twenty men. And while Snorri was at the 
feast, disclosed Thorodd to him, how he felt him- 
self both disgraced and injured by the visits which 
Bjorn Asbrandson made to Thurid his wife, but 
sister to Snorri Godi : Thorodd said that Snorri 
should remedy this bad business. Snorri was there 
a few days, and Thorodd gave him costly presents . 

* These poetical effusions of Bjorn may, perhaps, appear somewhat impro- 
bable to British readers, but, as has been shewn in the Introduction, the 
Northmen of this period, exhibited great readiness in a species of rude ver- 
sification, the melody of which was chiefly formed on alliteration. ** As late 
as the time of Chaucer," says Sir Walter. Scott^ *' it was considered as the 
mark of a Northern man to ' affect the letter.' '' ^nd his parson thus apo- 
logizes for not reciting a piece of poetry :— 

** But trusteth wel I am a Sotheme man, 
I cannot geste rom, rum, rqf, by my letter. 
And God wot, rime hold 1 but little better/' 

Abstract of Eyrbyggja Saga. 
'' Cette singuli^re mani^re de s'exprlmer etoit pourtant assez commune, 
et pent marquer seule combien ces peuples faisoient de cas de la Poesie.'* — 
Mallet. Introduc. a Thist. de Dannemarc, p. 247. 


when he went away. Snorri Godi rode from thence 
over the heath, and gave out that he was going to 
the ship in the hay of Raunhafia. Tl^is was in 
summer, at the time of haymaking. But when they 
came" south on Kamh's heath, then said Snorri : 
" Now will we ride from the heath down to Kamh, 
and I will tell you," said he, " that I will visit Bjom, 
and take his life, if opportunity offers, hut not attack 
him in the house, for the huildings are strong here, 
and Bjom is strong and hardy, and we have but 
little force ; and it is well known, that men who 
have come, even so, with great force, have, with 
little success, attacked such valiant men, inside in 
the house, as was the case with Geir Godi, and 
Gissur the white, when they attacked Gunnax of 
Lidarend, in his house, with eighty men, but he was 
there alone, and nevertheless were some wounded, 
and others killed ; and they had staid the attack, 
had not Geir Godi, with his heedfulness, observed 
that he was short of arms.* But forasmuch as," 
continued he, " Bjom is now out, which may be ex- 
pected, as it is good drying weather, so appoint I 
thee, my kinsman Mar, to fetch Bjom the first 
wound ; but consider well, that he is no man to trifle 
with, and that, wherever he is, you may expect a 
hard blow from a savage wolf, if he, at the onset, 
receives not such a wound as will cause his death.*' 
And now when they rode down from the moor to 
the farm,t saw they that Bjorn was out in the 

• Confer. Njdla, c. 77, 78. Landnam. p. 5, c. 6. 
t Banum, Dan, Qaard. 


homestead,* working at a sledge, t and there was 
nobody with him, and no weapons had he except a 
little axe, and a large knife, of a span's length from 
the haft, which he used for boring the holes in the 
pledge. Bjom saw that Snorri Godi with his fol- 
lowers rode down from the moor, into the field, and 
jfcnew them immediately. Snorri Godi was in a 
blue cloak, and rode in front. Bjom made an im- 
^lediate resolve, and took the knife, and went 
straight towards them ; when they came together, he 
seized with the one hand, the arm of Snorri's cloak, 
and with the other, held he the knife in such a 
manner as was most easy for him to stab Snorri 
through the breast, if he should think fit to do so. 
Bjom greeted them, as they met, and Snorri greeted 
him again ; but Mar dropped his hands, for it struck 
him that Bjom could soon hurt Snorri, if any injury 
was done to him. Upon this Bjom went with them 
on their way, and asked what news they had, but 
held himself in the same position which he had 
taken at the first. Then took up Bjom the dis- 
course in this manner : " It stands truly so, friend 
Snorri, that I conceal not I have acted towards you, 
in such wise, that you may well accuse me, and I 
have been told, that you have a hostile intention to- 
wards me. Now it seems to me best," continued he, 
" that if you have any business with me, other than 
passing by here to the high road, you should let me 

♦Tnnvelli. J>a7i. hjemme marken. 

t Small wooden unshod sledges are used in Scandinavia for drawing in hay 
to the haggart, in the summer season. 


know it ; but be that not the case, then would I that 
you grant me peace, and I will then turn back, for 
I go not in leading strings.*' Snorri answered: 
" Such a lucky grip took thou of me at our meet- 
ing, that thou must have peace this time, how- 
ever it may have been determined before ; but 
this I beg of thee, that from henceforth, thou cease 
to inveigle Thurid, for it will not end well between 
us, if thou, in this respect, continue as thou hast 
begun.*' Bjom replied : " That only will I pro^ 
mise thee, which I -can perform, but I see not, how 
I can hold to this, so long as Thurid and I are in 
the same district.'* "Thou art Hot so much boimd 
to this place,** answered Snorri, "but that thou 
couldest easily give up thy residence here/* Bjbm 
replied : " True is that which thou sayest, and 
thus shall it be, since you have yourself come to me, 
and as our meeting has thud turned out will I pro- 
mise thee, that Thorodd and thou shalt have no 
more trouble about my visits to Thuridd for the 
next year.*' After this, they separated; Snorri 
Godi rode to the ship, and then home to Helgafell. 
The day following rode Bjom southwards to* Raun- 
hofh to go to sea, and he got immediately, in the 
summer, a place in a ship, and they were very soon 
ready. They put to sea with a north-east wind, 
which wind lasted long during the summer ; but of 
this ship was nothing heard since this long time. 


The fdllowing narrative will shew that Bjom was driven to 
that part of the eastern coast of North America, where White 
Man's Land, or Great Ireland was supposed by the North- 
men tobe situated,andwhere, thirty years afterwards, < 1029,) 
Gudleif Gudlaugson, driven in the same direction by easterly 
winds, recognised his countryman in a Chief, to whose position 
and influence both he and his companions were indebted 
for a safe return to their native land. This narrative is 
contained in the same Saga from whence the preceding 
has been derived; but before introducing the second pe- 
riod in the history of Bjbm Asbrandson to the notice of the 
reader, a short sketch from the able pen of Bishop Miiller, 
of the general characteristics of the Eyrbyggja Sagoy its 
high position among Icelandic MSS. its well authenticated 
details, and its consequent claims to credibility as regards 
all the leading incidents which it records, will serve to 
place the two narratives in their proper light, and render 
the whole toore worthy of consideration in a historical 
point of view : 

. '' This Saga contains a number of occurrences and names 
of persons that are also mentioned in other places- Tho- 
rolf Mostrarskeg's death is fixed by the annals in 918; of 
him and his son Thorstein much is to be found in the 
La.ndn^mab6k, p. 92, seq. ; Thorgrim Thorsteinson's death 
is related at length in Gisle Surson's Saga ; the I^andnima 
mentions the most of Snorri's actions ; the Annals record 
his birth in 964, and his death in 1031 .... Besides, many 
of the persons named here are also mentioned in the Krist- 
nisaga, and many are to be found in the Niala and Lax- 
daela Sagas.*' 

" The author cites the testimony of Ari Frode, p. 16 ; 
he remarks himself that Snorri appears in many other 
Sagas, and expressly mentions p. 334, Laxdaela Saga, 
and Heidarviga Saga. In p. 336, certain circumstances 
are stated to have thus happened ** according to what most 


people said;" in p. 174^ we read *< one sees still the mark 
of the new barrow, which Amkel raised over his father, 
and where he made a fence across^ so that no animal should 
come there/' In p. 195, it is stated : " at that time it was 
the merchants^ custom that they had no cook on board 
ship, but thfit all the diip's company shguld take it in turn 
to cook the victuals : there should also stand a covered can 
with drink by the sail«" These expressions prove that the 
writer (^ this Saga lived some time after the events which 
he here relates ; that already a part of the Saga was current, 
and that from these statements, and other individual oral 
relations, he pfut his work together." 

** Again : verses are often introduced, as well by the 
acting persons as other Skalds who sung of the events. 
These must, therefore, on the.whole, be considered credible, 
and contain many, not unimportant characteristics of the 
times. Traces of later decoration appear in the descrip- 
tion of the hardihood of those who were wounded at the 

' battle of AlpteQord, p. 44, and of Thorgunna's witchcraft, 
p. 50, seq. but it is only natural that somewhat more of 
superstition should appear in this than in many other Sagas, 
and the circumstance proves nothing against its antiquity. 
The greater number of these embellishments are no more 
than what we commonly find, where such superstitious 
faith is entertained, and the additions are accordant with 
the credulity of the times. The Eyrbyggja Saga is ex- 
pressly quoted in the Landn^mab&k, p. 84; Besides, we 
can determine the date of this with greater accuracy than 
that of most other Sagas : it must have been written before 
1264, when Iceland became subject to Norway, because it 
is stated, p. 11: "All should pay tribute to the temple, 
and be liable for the journeys of the Chief, just as in the 
present time, the lliingmen for their Chief:" hence it 

follows, that the aristocratic form of society, which ceased 
when the island became subject to Norway, must have ex- 


isted at the period in question.* The Saga must also have 
been written whilst Thord Sturieson and his mother yet 
lived, for it says, p. 338 : '* when the church which Snorri 
Godi had built was removed, his bones were taken up^ and 
brought down to the place where the church now stands ; 
there were present Gudny Bodvar's daughter, Thord and 
Sighvat Sturleson's mother; and Thord Sturieson says, that 
they were the bones of a middle sized man, and not large. 
There were also taken up the bones of Bork the fat, 
Snorri Godi's uncle : they were very large ; also was taken 
up the wife of Thordis, Thorbjom Surs' daughter, Snorri 
Godi's mother. Gudny says that they were small women's 
bones, and as black as if they were singed." This proves 
that the writer of the Saga was present with Thord Sturieson, 
and his mother. Gudny died in the year 1220 odd, and 
the Saga must therefore have been written in the be- 
ginning of the 13th century." 

Mullers Sagabibliotbek, 1 B. p. 195, seq. 

* See Introdaction, pp. y. tL 




A.D. 1029. 
Etrbyggja Saga, Gap. 64. Vellum Fbagmbnt, No. 4466, in 4to. 

Collated with the btfore mentioned JUfSS. 

64. Gudleif hight a man ; he was son of Gud- 
laug the rich, of StraumiQ^^d, and brother of Thor- 
finn, from whom the Sturlungers are descended. 
Gudleif was a great merchant,* he had a merchant 
ship, but Thorolf Eyrar Loptson had another, that 
time they fought against Gyrd, son of Sigvald Jarl ; 
then lost Gyrd his eye. It happened in the last 
years of the reign of King Olaf the Saint, that Gud- 
leif undertook a trading voyage to Dublin jf but 
when he sailed from the west, intended he to sail to 
Iceland ; he sailed then from the west of Ireland,^ 
and met with north-east winds, and was driven far 
to the west, and south-west, in the sea, where no 
land was to be seen. But it was already far gone 
in the summer, and they made many prayers that 
they might escape from the sea ; and it came to pass 
that they saw land. It was a great land, but they 
knew not what land it was. Then took they the 
resolve to sail to the land, for they were weary of 

* Farmadr mikill. 

t Some of the MSS. add '' vestr/* shewing that Ireland was spoken of as 
lying westwards from Iceland. 

X Probably Limerick; which was much frequented by the Northmen. 


contending longer with the violence of the sea. 
They found there a good harhour; and when they had 
been a short time on shore, came people to them : 
they knew none of the people, but it rather appeared 
to them that they spoke Irish.* Soon came to them 
so great a number that it made up many hundreds. 
These men fell upon them and seized them all, 
and bound them, and drove them up the country. 
There were they brought before an assembly, to be 
judged. They understood so much that soma were 
for killmg them, but others would have them distri- 
buted amongst the inhabitants, and made slaves. 
And while this was going on, saw they, where rode 
a great body of men, and a large banner was borne 
in the midst. Then thought they that there must 
be a chief in the troop ; but when it came near, * 
saw they that under the banner rode a large and 
dignified man, who was much in years, and whose 
hair was white. All present bowed down before 
the man, and received him as well as they could. 
Now observed they that all opinions and resolutions 
concerning their business, were submitted to his 
decision. Then ordered this man Gudleif and his 
companions to be brought before him, and when 
they had come before this man, spoke he to them in 

* '' £o helzt l>otti ^eim, sem ^eir inaBlti irsku." This is a very remark- 
able passage, and affords the strongest grounds for believing that the coun- 
try to which they were driven, had been previously colonized from Ireland. 
The Northmen, from their intercourse with the Irish ports, might be sup- 
posed to have had just sufficient knowledge of the language to detect its 
sounds (here probably corrupted), and understand the general meaning of 
the words. See infra. 


the Northern tongue,* and asked them from what 
country they came. They answered him, that the 
most of them were Icelanders. The man asked 
which of them were Icelanders ? Gudleif said that 
he was an Icelander. He then saluted the old man, 
and he receiyed it well, and asked from what part 
of Iceland he came. Gudleif said that he was from 
that districtt which hight Borgafjord. Then en- 
quired he from what part of Borga^ord he came, 
and Gudleif answered lust as it was. Then asked 
to »»m .bout almost ovory one of the prmcipd 
men in BorgaiQ^^^ ^^^ Breidafjord ; and when they 
talked thereon, enquired he minutely ahout every 
thing, first of Snorri Godi, and his sister Thurid of 
Froda, and most ahout Kjartan her son. The 
people of the country now called out, on the other 
side, that some decision should he made ahout the 
seamen. After this went the great man away from 
them, and named twelve of his men with himself, 
and they sat a long time talking. Then went they 
to the meeting of the people, and the old man said 
to Gudleif: ** I and the people of the country have 
talked together ahout your business, and the people 
have left the matter to me j hut I will now give ye 
leave to depart whence ye 'wdll j but although ye 
may think that the summer is almost gone, yet 
will I counsel ye to remove from hence, for here are 
the people not to he trusted, and bad to deal with, 
and they think besides that the laws have been 
broken to their injury." Gudleif answered : "What 

• Norreenu, see antie, p. 67, note. t Harrad. 


shall we say, if fate permits us to return to our own 
country, who has given us this freedom ?'* He an- 
swered : " That can I not tell you, for I like not 
that my relations and foster-hrothers should make 
such a journey hereto, as ye would have made, if 
ye had not had the henefit of my help ; but now is my 
age so advanced, that I may expect every hour old age 
to overpower me ; and even if I could live yet for a 
time, there are here more powerful men than me, 
who little peace would give to foreigners that might 
come here, although they be not just here in the 
neighbourhood where ye landed/' Then caused he 
their ship to be made ready for sea, and was there 
with them, until a fair wind sprung up, which was 
favourable to take them from the land. But before 
they separated took this man a gold ring from his 
hand, and gave it into the hands of Gudleif, and 
therewith a good sword ; then said he to Gudleif : 
"If the fates permit you to come to your own 
coimtry, then shall you take this sword to the 
yeoman, Kjartan of Froda, but the ring to Thurid 
his mother." Gudleif replied : " What shall I say, 
about it, as to who sends them these valuables ?'* 
He answered : " Say that he sends them who was a 
better friend of the lady of Froda, than of her bro- 
ther, Godi of Helgafell ; but if any man therefore 
thinks that he knows who has owned these articles, 
then say these my words, that I forbid any one to 
come to me, for it is the most dangerous expedition, 
unless it happens as fortimately with others at the 
landing place, as with you j but here' is the land 


great, and bad as to harbours, and in all parts may 
Lagers expect hostility, when it does not turn out 
as has been with you/' After this, Gudleif and his 
people put to sea, and they landed in Ireland late 
in harvest, and were in Dublin for the winter. 
But in the summer after, sailed they to Iceland, and 
Gudleif delivered over there these valuables ; and 
people held it for certain, that this man was Bjorn, 
THE Champion of Breidavik, and no other accoimt 
to be relied on is there in confirmation of this, 
except that which is now given here. 

The reader will no doubt come to the same conclusion 
drawn by the Icelanders respecting the identity of the aged 
chief, to whose generosity and friendly feeUng Gudleif and 
his companions were so much indebted, and unhesitatingly 
pronounce him to have been none other than Bjorn As- 


remembered, had set sail about thirty years before, with a 
north-east wind, and had not since been heard of* The 
remarkable accordance of all the personal details, to which 
the writer evidently attaches the principal importance, 
with the historical events, which are only incidentally al- 
luded to, enable us to determine dates and intervals of 
time with a degree of accuracy that places the truth of the 
narrative beyond all question, and gives a high degree of 
interest to these two voyages. The mention of Sigurd Jarl 
of the Orkneys, Palnatoki, Styrbjbrn the nephew of Erik 
of Sweden, the battle of Fyrisvold, Snorri Godi, " the latter 
part of the reign of king Olaf the saint," gives a chrono- 
logical character to the narratives, and enables us to fix 

* See ante, p. 199. 


with confidence, nearly the exact period of the principal 
events. Hence it appears that Gudleif Gudlaugson, sailisg 
from the west of Ireland in the year 1029, with a n. jb« 
wind, is driven far to the south and south-west^ where no 
land was to be seen, and that after being exposed for 
many days to the violence of the winds and waves, he at 
length finds shelter upon a coast, where Bjorn Asbrandson, 
who had left Iceland with n. e. winds thirty yeara 'before, 
bad become established as chief of the inhabitants t^ the 
country. He finds him^ as might natungdly hav« been ex- 
pected, *' stricken in years," aiid " his hair W9^ white,? for 
Bjorn had left Iceland for Jorasborg in the prim© of life, 
had, after taking part in the achievements of the Jomsvi- 
kings up to the death of Falnatoki in 993, returned to and 


resided in Iceland until 999, and now thirty winters had 
passed over his head since his ultimate departutre fnxm his 
native land. The locality of the newly discovered country 
is next to be determined; Now if a line be drawn running 
N. E, and 8. w. the course of Bjorn Asbrandson^ from the 
western coast of Iceland, and another in the same direction 
(the course of Gudleif Gudlaugson) from the west coast of 
Ireland, they would intersect each other on the south^n 
shores of the United States, somewhere about Carolina or 
Georgia. This position accords well with the description 
of the locality of their country, given by the Skraelings to 
Thorfinn Karlsefne^ and which the Northmen believed to 
be White Man's Land or Great Ireland,"!" as also with 
the geographical notices of the same land which have been 
already adduced ;f and when to these evidences be added 
the statements of Gudleif and his companions respecting 
the language of the natives, ^^ which appeared to them to be 
Irishf'X there is every reason to conclude that this was 
the Hvitramannaland, Albania, or Irland ed mikla of the 

♦ See ante, p. 103. t Ante, p. 183. t Ante, p. 204. 


The notices of the country contmned in these two nar- 
ratives are, doubtless, scanty, and merely incidental, the 
object of the narrators being evidently to trace the romantic 
and adventurous career of the Champion of Breidavik, and 
the perilous voyage of his countrymen, but this very cir- 
cumstance is an argument in favour of the honesty of the 
statement as regards the supposed Irish settlement; and 
the simple and unpretending character of both narratives, 
supported, as diey are^ by historical references, confirmatory 
of the principal events, gives to these incidentsd allusions a 
degree of importance to which they would not otherwise be 

Professor Rafh is of opinion that the White Man*s Land, 
or Great Ireland of the Northmen was the country situated 
to the south of Chesapeake Bay, including North and 
South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida.* It is well 
known that the Esquimaux Indians formerly inhabited 
countries much further south than they do at present, and 
a very remarkable tradition is stated to be still preserved 
amongst the Shawanese Indians, who emigrated 87 years 
ago, from West Florida to Ohio, that Florida was once 
inhaiited by white meUj who used iron instruments. f A 
German writer also mentions an old tradition of the an- 
cestors of the Shawanese having come from beyond the 

Various circumstances shew that Great Ireland was a 
country, of the existence of which the Icelandic historians 
had no doubt ; it is spoken of in the Saga of Thorfinn 
Karlsefne as a country well known by name to the North- 
men ; in the account of Ari Marson's voyage, and the geo- 

* Antiq. Amer. p. 448. See Map, Plate II. It might also have ex- 
tended towards the Isthmus of America. See infn, p. 213, seq. 

t Account of the present state of the Indian tribes inhabiting Ohio, in 
Archseologia Americana, I. p. 273-276. ap. Rafn. 

I Assals Nachrichten Uber die fruheren Einwohner yon Nerd America 
und ihrc Denkmaler, p. 87. ap. Rafn. in Antiq. Amer. p. 448, note a. 



graphical fragment, its position is pointed out : — ^' west from 
Ireland, near Vinland the good" — " next and somewhat 
behind Vinland,"* and the following extract, taken from 
the collection of Bjorn Johnson^ will shew that a Chart 
had actually been made of this distant land :^- 

'^Sir^Erlend Thordson had obtained from abroad the 
geographical chart of that Albania, or land of the White 
men, which is situated opposite Vinland the good, of which 
mention has been before made in this little book, and 
which the merchants formerly called Hibernia Major or 
Great Ireland, and lies, as has been said, to the west of 
Ireland proper. This chart had held accurately all these 
tracts of land, and the boundaries of Markland, Einfoeting- 
jaland, and little Helluland, together with Greenland, te 
the west of it, where apparently begins the good Terra 
Florida."f This SirJ Erlend was priest of the parish of 
Staden in SteingrimsQord, on the west coast of Iceland, in 
the year i568,§ but no further information has been obtained 
respecting the chart, which probably contained the outlines 
of all the countries known to the Northmen soon after their 
discovery of the American continent. 

From what cause could the name of Great Ireland 
have arisen, but from the fact of the country having been 
colonized by the Irish ? Coming from their own green 
island to avast continent possessing many of the fertile 
qualities of their native soil, the appellation would have 

• See ante, p. 183. 

t Sira Eriendr heitinn l^ordarson, hMi yfirkomizt utanlands landatoblu 
nm ^h Albania edr Hvitramannaland, sem liggr gagnyart Vinlandi hinu 
goda, ok kdr er umroedt i ^essum beekllngi^ ok kaupnieDn fordam neiba 
Hyhemia Major edi* Irland hid MiJda, ok liggr, sem adr greinlr, yestr frd 
almenniligu Irlandi. Sil tabia hafdi haldit frodliga um ^essa alia landak- 
lasa ok roetur, Marklands, Einfoetingja, ok litla Hellulauds sampt ok Groen- 
lands vestr l>angat, sem s^rdeilis til tok bvl g6da Terra Florida." Antiq. 
Amer. p. 448, note b, 

X Sir was formerly the English title for a priest, see Spenser. 

§ Antiq. Amer. p. 449, note b. 


been natural and appropriate ; and costume^ colour, or pe- 
euliar habits^ might have readily given rise to the jpountry 
being denominated White Man's Land by the neighbouring 
Esquhnaux.* Nor does this conclusion involve any im- 
probability: we have seen that the Irish visited and in- 
habited Iceland towards the close of the dth century, to 
have accomplished which liiey must have traversed a stormy 
ocean to the extent of about 800 miles ; that a hundred years 
before the time of Dicuil, namely in the year 725, they 
bad been found upon the FartB islands ; that in the 10th 
c^atury, voyages between Iceland and Ireland were of or- 
dinary occurrence ; and that in the beginning of the 11th 
century. White Man^s Land or Great Ireland is men- 
tioned, --►not as a newly discovered country, — but as a 
land long known by name to the Northmen. Neither the 
Icelandic historians or navigators were, in the least degree, 
interested in originating or giving currency to any fable re- 
acting an Irish settlement on the southern shores of North 
America, for they set up no claim to the discovery of that 
part of the Western continent, their intercourse being 
limited to the coasts north of Chesapeake Bay. The dis- 
covery of Vinlttnd and Great Ireland appear to have been 
totally independent of each other : the latter is only inci- 
dentally alluded to by the Northern navigators; with the 
name th^ were familiar, but of the peculiar locality of the 
country they were ignorant, nor was it until after the return 
of Karlsefne from Vinland in 1011, and the information 
which he obtained from the Skraelings or Esquimaux who 
were captured during the voyage, that the Northmen be- 
came convinced that White Man's Land or Great Ireland 
was a part of the same vast continent, of which Helluland, 
Markland, and Vinland formed portions. 

The traces of Irish origin which have been observed among 
some of the Indian tribes of North and Central America tend 
also to strengthen the presumption that these countries had 

*See infra, p. 215. 


been colonized from Ireland at some remote period of time.* 
Rask, the eminent Danish philologist, leans to this opinion, 
which he founds upon the early voyages of the Irish to Ice- 
land and the similitude between the Hibemo-Celtic, and 
American Indian dialects. "It is well known,". he says, 
'* that Iceland was discovered and partially inhabited by 
the Irish before its discovery and occupation by the Scan- 
dinavians; and when we find that the Icelanders, de- 
scended from the Scandinavians, discovered North America, 
it will appear less improbable that the Irish,who, at that pe- 
riod, were more advanced in learning and civilization, should 
have undertaken similar expeditions with success :"f the 
name of Irland it Mikla he also considers to be a suf- 
ficient indication of the Irish having emigrated thither 
from their own country. 

It seems to be generally admitted by historians and anti- 
quaries that the main stream of colonization has flowed 
from east to west, the Celts preceding the Teutonic and 
Sarmatian races, by a long interval of time. Herodotus, 
four centuries before the Christian era, places the Celts 
beyond the pillars of Hercules, and upon the borders of the 
most westerly region in Europe,.}; and Caesar in the first 
century finds them in Gaul and Britain ; that their succes- 
sors, the Goths, should have driven them to seek for regions 
still further westward is therefore in full accordance with 
the course of their former migrations, and the same noma- 
dic principle which brought them from Asia to the British 
isles, might have wafted them in later ages to the western 

The illustrious Leibnitz seems to have contemplated the 

* In indigenis AmericsB Septemtrionalis reperiri qusedam Hibernicse ori- 
ginls vestigia, plures docti et expert! viri observaverunt. Rafn in Antiq. 
Amer. p. 449. 

t Samlede Afhandlinger, B. 1, p. 165. 

X oi St KfXroi eiffi l^(o 'KpaicXrj'Kov arriXetov ofiovpkovffi Sh KvvrjaioKn, ot 
taxciTOi irpbs dvcfusuv oUkovai rwv tv rij Evpioiry KaroiKtinkviav, 

Euterp. xxxiii. Melpom. xlix. 


possibility of such a remote Celtic settlement when he 
wrote : — '* And if there be any island beyond Ireland^ where 
the Celtic language is in use, by the help thereof we should 
be guided, as by a thread, to the knowledge of still more 
antient things.'** 

Th6 temarkable narrative of Lionel Wafer who resided 
for several months amongst the inhabitants of the Isthmus of 
America, contains some remarkable passages bearing upon 
this subject, and which, as the author had no preconceived 
opinions on the affinity of languages, or favourite theory to 
uphold, are deserving of notice : speaking of their lan- 
guage, he says : — 

" My knowledge of the Highland language made me the 
more capable of learning the Darien Indians' language, 
when I was among them, for there is some affinity ; not in 
the signification of the words of each language, but in the 
pronunciation, which I could easily imitate, both being 
spoken pretty much in the throat, with frequent aspirates, 
and much the same sharp or circumflex tang or cant."f 
This writer, however, had evidently not paid much atten- 
tion to the affinities of the two languages which he compares 
and finds only to resemble in pronunciation, for many of 
the words which he afterwards adduces as examples of the 
Indian language, bear a marked similitude to those of the 
Celtic, as may readily be seen by the following com- 
parison : — 

* '' £t si altra Hiberniam esset aliqua insula Celtic! sennonis, ejus 
filo in multo adhuc antiquiora duceremur." Leibnitzius, Collect. Etymol. 
Vol. I. p. 163. 

f A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an 
account of the author's abode there, the Indian inhabitants, their manners, 
customs, language, &c. by Lionel Wafer, London, 1699, p. 186. This 
author is one of Dr. Robertson's authorities, and described by that eminent 
historian as '* a traveller possessing more curiosity and intelligence than we 
should have expected to find in an associate of Buccaneers." Hist. Anier. 
Vol. V. of Works, p. 294 : Wafer appears to have been surgeon in a privateer. 






Namxih — Mother. 
Poonah — Woman • 
iVJpe— the Moon 

Eechah{^ron, Eetsha)— Ugly 

Paeeehah — Foh ! Ugly ! 

Eetah, got . 
Dcelah, water 
CopaJi, drink , 
Mamaumah, fine 

Taduy$ (Welsh), Tad (Corn.) Tat 
(Armotic) Dad or Daddy (valg. 

Naing (Irish). 

Bean (Ir.) Bun (Armor.) 

Ifemm (antidfit Scotch). 

Neul, a star— light — aealtAib njine, the 
stars of heaven ( Ir.). 

JBtseact — Death (Ir.)— the ugliest of all 

Pahf prefixed to a #ord in Welsh aug- 
ments its signification. 
JEechah Malooquaht an expression Malluighe or maUmgtey xivrsed, ac- 

of great dislike . carsed (Irish). 

Cotehak^ sleep . , Codaita and Codaltac, sleepy (Ir.). 

Caupah (pron. Capa), hammock C&ba, a cloak, Cahem, tent^ cottage (Ir.) 

Gabon, fb, (Welsh). 

JEd, to take, handle (Irish). 

TuUe, a flood (Ir.). 

CeSbac, drunkenness (Ir.) 

Ma, ma, ba, would be nearly the sound 
of the repetition of the word ba 
which signifies good in Irish : the ii 
and b are also often used iDdiscrimi- 
nately. See O'Brien — Remarks on 
letter M. 

JSntci, to name (Welsh), ffenu, a 
jiame (Armor.). 

Wafer further says : " Their way of reckoning from score 
to score is no more than what our old English way was, 
but their saying, instead of thirty-one, thirty-two, &c. one 
score and eleven, one score and twelve, &c. is mtich like 
the Highlanders of Scotland and Ireland, reckoning eleven 
and twenty, twelve and twenty, &c. ; so for fifty-three, the 
Highlanders say thirteen and two score, as the Darien 
Indians would two score and thirteen, only changing the 
place. In my youth I was well acquainted with the High- 
land or primitive Irish language, both as it is spoken in 
the north of Ireland, particularly at the Navan upon the 

Eenah, to eeHi 


Boyne, and about the town of Virgini upon Lough 
Rammer in the Barony of Castle Raghen, in the County 
of Cavan ; and also in the Highlands of Scotland, where I 

have been up and down in several places I learned 

a great deal of the Darien language in a month's conversa- 
tion with them.'^* 

Wafer's description of the dress of this tribe of American 
Indians, presents also a remarkable coincidence with the short 
notices of the inhabitants of White Man's Land, as given 
to Karlsefne by the Esquimaux : — 

" They have a sort of long cotton garment of their own, 
some white, others of a rusty black, shaped like our carters' 
frocks, hanging down to their heels, with a fringe of the same 
of cotton, about a span long, and short, wide, open sleeves, 
reaching but to the middle of the arms* These garments 
they put on over their beads. . . . When they are thus as- 
sembled, they will sometimes walk about the place, or plan- 
tation, where they are, with these their robes on ; and I once 
saw Lacenta (a qhief) thus walking about, with two or three 
hundred of these attending him, as if he was mustering them : 
and I took notice that those in the black gowns walked before 
him, and the white after him, each having their lances of the 
name colour with th^r rohes\. . . . They were all in their 
finest robes, which are hng white gowns^ reaching to their 
ancles, with fringes at the bottom, and in their hands they 
had half pikes/';}: 

♦ Wafer's New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, &c. 
pp. 183, 184, 186. 

f Confer. Saga of Thorfinn Karisefne, p. 103. 

t Wafer's Voyages, &c. pp. 37, 142. This author also makes mention of 
wJute people in the Isthmus of America, similar to the Albinos of Africa, 
which are not, however, he says, a distinct race, but are occasionally the 
progeny of copper-coloured parents (p. 137). Humboldt also mentions the 
circumstance of fair children being born of dark coloured American Indians, 
(Ed. Cab. Lib. x. p. 120,) shewing how little dependance is to be placed on 
skin or complexion as indications of race. 


The affinity between the American-Indian and Celtic 
languages, and consequent probability of an European set- 
tlement haying been formed upon the shores of New Spain 
before the arrival of the Spaniards, appears to have been en- 
tertained by many writers of eminence in the 17th century * 
In the remarkable work entitled the " Turkish Spy," we 
find the author positively affirming the similarity of the two 
languages, and stating the tradition of an early European 
settlement : 

*' This prince (Charles II.) has several nations under his 
dominions, and 'tis thought he scarce knows the just extent 
of his territories in America, Hiere is a region in that con- 
tinent inhabited by a people whom they call Tuscorards and 
Doegs. Their language is the same as is spoken by the 
British or Welsh* . . Those Tuscorards and Doegs of Ame- 
rica are thought to descend from them. . . It is certain, that 
when the Spaniards first conquered Mexico, they were sur- 
prised to hear the inhabitants discourse of a strange people, 
that formerly came thither in corraughSy\ who taught them 
the knowledge of God, and of immortality, instructed them 
also in virtue and morality, and prescribed holy rites and ce- 
remonies of religion. 'Tis remarkable also^ what an Indian 
King said to a Spaniard, viz.: That in foregoing ages, a 
strange people arrived there by sea, to whom his ancestors 
gave hospitable entertainment ; in regard they found them 
men of wit and courage, endued also with many other excel- 
lencies : but he could give no account of their original or 
name. . . • The British language is so prevalent here, that 
the very towns, bridges, beasts, birds, rivers, hills, &c. are 

* See Baumgarten, Allgemeine Geschichte der Lander und Volcker von 
America, P. i. c. i. p. 27. Pere Charlero! ap. Mallet. Introduc. a lliistoire de 
Dannemarc, pp. 188, 189. 

t This is a good commentary upon the statement of Cainbrensis, who de- 
scribes the curraghs as so little sea^worthy, that the tail of a salmon would 
upset them !^See Topog. Hibern. 


called by British or Welsh names."* '^ Who can tell," truly 
adds the author, <' the various transmigrations of mortals on 
earth, or trace out the true originals of any people*'? 

The improbabihty of the Irish having, at any very remote 
period of time, been in possessionof vessels of suf&cientpower 
and capacity to enable them to accomplish a voyage across 
the Atlantic, may, periiaps, be urged as an objection to this 
supposed barly migration to the American coast ; but, with- 
out resting upon their antient Spanish or Carthaginian 
conne^ion^ a very little enquiry will shew, that, at least in 
the first centuries of the Christian era, they were amply 
pi-ovided with the means of accomplishing a voyage to the 
New World, which, from the western coast of Ireland, little 
exceeds 1600 miles.f 

O'Halloran states, on the authority of the Psalter of Ca- 
shel, said to be the oldest Irish MS., that Moghcorb, King 
of Leath Mogha, or Munster, prepared a large fleet in the 
year 296, and invaded Denmark ; and that in the following 
century, (A. D. 367), Criomthan, who in the Psidter of Ca- 
shel is styled Monarch of Irefland and Albany, and leader of 
the Franks and Saxons, prepared a formidable fleet, and 
raised a large body of troops, which were transported to 
Scotland, for the purpose' of acting in conjunction with the 
Picts and Saxons, against the Roman wall, and devastating 

• " Letters writ by aTarkish Spy, who lived five and forty years undisco- 
veried in Paris, giving an impartial account to tlt^ ]!>ivan kt Constantinople, 
of the most remarkable transactions of Europe, &c. from the year 1673 to 
the year 1682 ; written originally in Arabic, 10th edition, London, 1734." — 
Vol. 8, p. 159, seq. The real author of this work, which caused a great 
sensation at the time, as well from the highly interesting character of its 
contents, as from the profound secrecy in which th6 name of the writer was 
long involved, was John Paul Marana, a native of Italy. See Disraeli's 
Curios. Lit. 

t '' Newfoundland is the nearest part of America to Europe ; the distance 
from St. Jolm's,in Newfoundland, to Port Valentia, on the west coast of Ire- 
land, being 1656 miles.'' Hist, of Brit. Colonies, by Montgomery Martin, 
Vol. -III. p. 455, note. 


the provinces of Britain.* In 396, an expedition^ upon a 
most extensive and formidable scale, was undertaken by the 
celebrated Niall of the Nine Hostages, one of the most dis* 
tinguished princes of the Milesian race : " Observing," says 
Moore, <^ that the Romans, after breaking up the line of en- 
campment along the coast opposite to Ireland^ had retired to 
the eastern shore, end the northern wall, Niall peroeived 
that an apt opportunity was thus offered for a descent upon 
the now unprotected territory. Instantly summoning, there- 
fore, all the forces of the island, and embarking them on 
board such ships as he could collect, he ranged, with his nu* 
merous navy, along the whole coast of Lancashire," &c«t It 
was to this expedition that the poet Claudian, lauding the 
achievement of his patron Stilicho, alluded, in the memorar 
ble lines: — 

Me quoque vicinis pereantem gentibus, inqait, 
Munivit Stillco. Totam cum Scotus lemem 
Movit et infeeto spumarit remige Tketya. 

By him defended, wlien the neigfabourixig hosts 
Of warlike nations spread along our eoasts; 
When Scots X came thundering from the Irish shores, 
And the wide ocean foamed from hostile oars. 

Db Laudab. Stil. Lib. 2. 

♦ Vol. H. pp. 281, 293. 

t Hist. Ireland, Vol. I. p. 150. 

t The Irish are supposed to hare obtained the name of Scots or Scoti from 
the Scotic or Scytliic origin of the Spanish settlers under thesonsof Milesius, 
whose invasion Moore places " about a centui*y or two '* before the Christian 
era ; other more enthusiastic national historians take us back to 800 years 
before that period ; and O'Halloran fixes the landing on the 17th of May, 
A. M. 2736, or 1264 years before the birth of Christ. (Vol. II.p. 07.) The 
name Scoti, he derives from Scota, the wife of Niulus, High Priest of PhcB- 
nius, the inventor of letters, and ancestor of Milesius, in proof of which is 
given the following quotation from an Irish poem of the 9th century, enti- 
tled, Canam bunadhas na Nagaoidheal, or ** Let us rehearse the origin of 
the Irish" :— 

" Phaeni o Phaeuius adbearta ; brigh gan dochta 
Gaoidheal a Gaoidheal glasgharta : Scuit 6 Scota.*' Or : — 


This same Niall extended his ^iterprise to the coast of 
BritanDy, and ravaged the maritime districts of the north- 
west of Gaid, during which expedition wais captured the great 
Christian apostle, St. Patrick. 

** It is clear the Irish are called Phenlans from Phoeniut, Gathelians from 
Qathelus (son of Niulus and Scota), ^d Scots from Scota/' Vol. tl. p. 55. 

Mr.' If cod puts aside all this high genealogy, and deriTes the word from 
the Gothic Shut, applied to the Belgic colony in Ireland; and thenee after- 
wards transferred generally to the Irish at large (Enquiry, p. 81) ; while 
Camden, on the other hand, says, *^ Sure it is that they came out of Spain 
into Ireland, and part of them, departpg thence, came and added a third 
nation unto the Britains and Picts hi Britaine. . . . Neither can it be a mar- 
vaile, that a number of them withdrew themselTes into Ireland, ont of the 
north pari of Spaine, which, as Strabo writes, is moet baraine, and wherein 
men live most miserably." (Britannia, p. 66.) Moore shews, by a train of 
reasoning which cannot well be overthrown, that whatever Belgic, Northern, 
or Gaulish colonies may have been established in later years, the primitive 
inhabitants of the country were most probably derived from Celtic Spain, 
whose position, and early intercourse, by [means of Phcenician and Car- 
thaginian settlers on her western coast, naturally led to a colonization 
which could so easily have been effected. The historical traditions of both 
countries favour this assumption, and the fact of the Irish calling all 
foreigners CkUl, or Gaill, seems to be conclusive against their Gaulish or Bri- 
tish extraction. '< Scot! sumus, non GkUi/'ls their expression, says Ware; 
who, in the face of tills, advocates the British extraction of the earlier inha- 
bitants! Let the Belgic, Gallic, Scythic, or Danaic settlements be placed when 
and where they may, the great majority of the people of Ireland present, in 
their features, habits and language, all the living characteristics of an essen- 
tially Celtic population, — characteristics which time has not changed or con- 
quest obliterated, — which more than 200 years constant intercourse with the 
Northmen could not efface, — which 600 years connection with England has 
not altered, and which even in the present day, are as distinctly visible as 
her fertile vallies and verdant hills. That the term Scoti was the distinc- 
tive appellation of the Irish, Arom an early period, down to the beginning 
of the eleventh century, and was afterwards, through colonization from 
Ireland, transferred to North Britain, is evident, from the application of the 
name in the works of antient writers ', and the distinction between the Cale- 
donian and Hibernian Scots, as well as the descent of the modern Scots from 
the Irish, is clearly pointed out in the following lines of an old Latin poem, 
called Palai-Albion, published in the reign of James I., and quoted by Sir 
James Ware in his Antiquities of Ireland : — 


That such expeditions could have been carried on by 
means of the little fragile currachs, to which mode of trans- 
port some writers would limit the sea expeditions of the 
Irish at this period, seems scarcely credible, and while 
allowing full force to the fearless and enterprising spirit of 
the gallant Scoti, and the >^ contempto pelagi," alluded to by 
Eric of Auxerre, we must ^Uow them some more rational 
means for conveying a body of troops across the.British and 
Gallic channels than these frail barks.* 

Not that the currachs were insufBcient for individual 
enterprise of a more p^axseful character, and it seems 
probable that the monks of . the 8th century launched 
themselves on the northern ocean in these simple hide- 
covered skiffs, and thus effected a passage to their island 
retreats; for we find St. Cormac committing himself to 
the sea in a similar bark^ and on one occasion he is said 

At quoniam Arctoo Scotico Rex noster ab orbe 

Nee minus occiduis, perhibent, Scottu ortus Hibemis, 

Qui Britonum parent sceptris. 

Or, according to Harris's translation : — 

But since our King from northern Scotia came. 
Not less the Scots, if we may credit fame. 
Alike submiss to Britain's throne, derive 
Their lineage from Hibernians western hive. 

The Abbe Macgeoghan (p. 144) fixes the first emigration to Scotland in 
the third century, when they formed a settlement in Argyleshire^ part of 
which was known by the name oilema, and the Hebrides were called ^riit. 
<* Foreigners,'' says Wood, ** denominated the Highlands Hibemia, and their 
inhabitants Hiberni, as late as the eleventh century, and the Lowlanders 
called them Irish ;" but after the destruction of the Picts, in the ninth cen- 
tury, the name Scotia was transferred to North Britain. — See Enquiry con- 
cerning the Prim. Inhab. of Ireland, p. 162. 

* The currachs were probably used on such expeditions just as the 
*^ scaphas longarum navium ** were by Ccesar, for landing the troops. See 
Dc Bell. Oall. B. iv. c. 26. 


to have been out of sight of land for fourteen days and 

' But the remarkable passage in Tacitus, which has been 
so often cited by Irish historians in proof of the early 
maritime iinportance of their country, would lead to the 
conclusion that at a period, anterior to that now under 
consideration, the Irish were possessed of ships, or vessels of 
no mean size or description. " Ireland," the Roman historian 
says, "situated midway between Britain and Spain, and con- 
venient 'sdso to the Gallic sea, connected a most powerful 
portion' of the empire by considerable mutual advantages, 
the soil and climate, and the dispositions and habits of the 
people do not differ much from those of Britain: the 
approaches and harbours are better known^ by reason of 
commerce and the merchants "f " From this it appears,'* 

* ** Nam cum ejus navis a terris per quatuordecem eestei temporis dies 
totidemque noctes, p]enis velis austro flante vento, ad septentrionalis 
plagam coeli directo exeurrere cursu." Adamnan. De S. Columb, as quoted 
by Moore, V. I. p. 191. Sir James Ware gives an extract from an MS. 
copy of the life of St. Brendan, in which the Corragh is described to be a very 
light barque ribbed and fenced with timbers, and covered with raw cow 
hides, the joming of the skins being daubed with butter. Into such a vessel, 
the writer adds, '' they put materials for making two other boats, of other 
skins, and provisions for forty days, and butter to dress or prepare the 
skins for the covering of the boat, and other utensils necessary for human 
life. They also fixed a tree in the midst of the barque, and a sail, and other 
things belonging to the steering of a boat.'' [Antiq. Ir. II. p. 178-9.] Here 
long voyages seem to have been contemplated, and the same writer states 
on the authority of a passage in Marianus Scotus, an eminent Irish anna- 
list of the 11th century, that '' three Scots (Irishmen) named Duflan, Mac- 
beth» and Magulmumenus, coveting to lead a life of pUgrimage for the 
Lord's sake, taking with them provisions sufficient for a week, fled privately 
out of Ireland, and entering into a boat, made of two hides and a half, in a 
miraculous manner, without sails or tackling, in seven days landed in Corn- 
wall, and from thence made their way to king Alfred.*' Ware, V. II. p. 179. 

t '* Hibernia medio inter Britanniam atque Hispaniam sita, et Gallico 
quoque mari opportuna, valentissimam imperii partem magnls invicem 

usibus iniscuerit Solum ccelumque, et ingenia cultusque hominum 

baud niultum a Britannia difierunt, melius aditus portusque per com' 
mercia et negotiatores cogniii." Vit. Agric. c. 24. 


says Moore, ^'that though scarcs& heard of till within a 
short period by the Romans, and almost as strange to the 
Greeks, this sequestered island was yet in possession of 
channels of intercourse distinct from either ; and that whiht 
the Britons, shut out from the continent by <jieir Roman 
masters, saw themselves deprived of all that profitable 
intercourse which they had long maintained with the 
Veneti and other people of Gaul, Ireland still continued 
to cultivate her old relations with Spain, and saw Iwr barks 
venturing on their accustomed course, between the Celtic 
Cape, and the Sacred Promontory,* as they had done for 
centuries befcMPe.*' 

That Ireland must have been included amongst the Cassite- 
rides which are known to have been visited by the Phoeni- 
cians, before the Gallic invasion of Britain, seems to be 
admitted by all unprejudiced writers upon this subject,f and 

* Cape St. Vincent and Carnsore Point. The distance from Corunna to 
Cape Clear direct, is about 600 miles, but the greater part of the voyage 
might be performed within sight of land, by taking a circuitous course. 

t " We may therefore admit, without much chance of error, that the 
Cassiterides visited by the Phoenicians, were the British islands, though 
the Romans understood by the name the islands of Scilly, with perhaps, 
part of the coast of Cornwall." Sharon Turner, Hist. Anglo-Saxons, 
vol. i. p. 55. Pliny says : " Plumbum ex Cassitcride insula primus appor- 
tavit Midacritus." [Hist. Nat. vii. p. 57.] and lead, it is well known, can 
be reckoned amongst the mineral productions of Ireland : hence Donatus, 
writing in the fifth century, thus enumerates the characteristics of the 
country :— 

Finibus occiduis, describitur optima tellus 

Nomine et antiquis, Scotia scripta libris. 

Insula dives opum Oemmarum, vestis, et Auri : 

Commoda corporibus Aere, Sole, Solo. 

Melle fluit pulchris, et lacteis Scotia campis 

Vestibus, atque armis, frugibus, arte, viris. 

Ursorum rabies nulla e^t ibi ; sseva leonum 

Semina, nee unquam Scotica terra tullt. 

Nulla venena nocent, nee serpens serpit in herb&. 

Nee conquesta canit, garrula rana lacu ; 

In qua Scotorum gentes, habitare merentur : 

Inclyta gens hominum, Milito, Pace, Fide ! 


that the mystery, in which these wily traders soughtto con- 
ceal their commercial monopoly, has led to the obscurity in 
which the records of their voyages is involved. That the 
nautical knowledge and equipments of the Celtic popu- 
lation of Spain and Ireland must have received considerable 
advancement from this connection, is a natural consequence. 
Inhabiting the maritime regions of the Spanish peninsula, 
they were necessarily brought into immediate contact with 
the Carthaginian merchants, who had formed settlements 
on the same coast, and from whom they probably obtained 
not only their knowledge of navigation, but of those religious 
rites and ceremonies which were afterwards developed in 
the form of Druidism. 

That the latter was not of British origin seems obvious. 
Caesar's description of its observances is only reconcileable 
witii his account of Britain, on the assumption that the 
chief seat of the Druids was in Ireland, for while he de- 
scribes the Gauls as deriving their knowledge of Druidism 
from the British,* he represents the latter as inferior in 
civilization to the Gauls. Even in the time of Tacitus 

Which is thos spiritedly translated by 0*Halloran :— 

Far westward lies an isle of antient fame, 

By nature blessed, and Scotia is her name, 

Enroird in books : exhaastless is her store, 

Of veiny silver, and of golden ore. 

Her fhiitful soil for ever teems with wealth, 

With g^ms her waters, and her air with health ; 

Her verdant fields with nulk and honey flow, 

Her woolly fleeces vie with virgin snow. 

Her waving fhrrows float with bearded com ; 

And arms and arts her envied sons adorn ! 

No savage bear, with lawless fury roves, 

Nor fiercer lion through her peaceful groves ; 

No poison there infects, no scaly snake 

Creeps through the grass, nor frog annoys the lake ; 

An Ulaad worthy of its pious race, 

In war triumphant, and unmatch'd in peace ! 
• Comment. B. vi. c. xii. 


the Britons are represented as ferocics^ a state of bar- 
barism obviously incompatible with the creation of a high 
wrought mysterious superstition, implying considerable in- 
tellectual advancement and scientific knowledge : a super- 
stition, be it remembered, which is known to have existed 
amongst the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. 

The Roman knowledge of the British isles was extremely 
limited and imperfect ; before the time of Tacitus they 
were ignorant of the insular position of Brit^n,f and the 
acquaintance of Agricola with Ireland was principally 
derived from the doubtful information of a faithless Irish 
chief, who sought the Roman camp to betray his country.J 
Ireland also, according to Ptolemy, was formerly called 
Little Britain, therefore when Ceesar speaks of the Gauls 
repairing to Britain in order to become instructed in the 
mysteries of Druidism,§ the term may have been intended 
as a general expression for the British isles. || 

• '* Plus tamen ferocisB Britanni pr©ferunt." Vit. Agric. c. 11. 

t *' Hanc oraro novissimi maris tunc primum Romana classis circumTCcta, 
insulam esse Britanniam adfirmavit." Vit. Agric. c. 10. 

t ** Agricola expulsum seditione domestlca unom ex regalis gentis ex- 
ceperat, ac specie amicitiso in occasionem retinebat. Ssepe ex eo audivi/' 
&c. lb. c. 24. 

§ Comment. B. yi. c. xii. 

II It should be recollected also that Csesar merely mentions the origin of 
the Druids as traditionary: " Disciplinam exiatimatur reperta esse in 
Britannia/' &c. Ibid. Sharon Turner would appear to lean to the opinion 
of Druidism having originated with the Phoenicians or Carthaginians: 
" If this system," he observes, *' was the creature of a more civilized 
people, none of the colonizers of Britain are so likely to have been its 
parents as the Phoenicians or Carthaginians; the fact so explicitly asserted 
by Csesar, that the Druldical system began in Britain, and was thence 
introduced into Gaul, increases our tendency to refer it to those nations. 
The state of Britain was inferior in civilization to that of Gaul, and there- 
fore it seems more reasonable to refer the intellectual parts of Druidism to 
the foreign visitors wfio are known to have cultivated such subjects, than 
to suppose them to have originated from the rude unassisted natives.'' 
Hist. Anglo-Saxons, v. i. p. 76. 


The Druids, Caesar tells us, are concerned in divine mat- 
ters, superintend public and private sacrifices, interpret 
religious rites, determine controversies, inheritance, boun- 
daries of land, rewards and punishments ... " They are 
said to learn by heart a great number of verses, for which 
reason some continue in the discipline twenty years." — 
" They use written characters,*' — " Much besides they dis- 
course, and deliver to youth, upon the stars, and their 
motion, on the magnitude of the world and the earth, on 
the nature of things^ on the influence and power of the 
immortal Gods."* 

This particular class, combining the double office of 
judge and priest, although common in the time of Csesar 
to the British isles, would naturally be found most enlight- 
ened in that part of the three kingdoms, whose direct com- 
munication ^ath Spain, from a remote period, brought it 
into more immediate contact with the Phoenician navi- 
gators ; and the appellations of " Sacred Isle," and " Sa^ 
cred Promontory," in the works of Ptolemyf and Avienus,:]: 
lead us involuntarily to the conclusion, that, hundreds of 
years before the Roman invasion of Britain, Ireland was 
the depository of those Phoenician superstitions, which after- 
wards became adopted throughout the British Isles under 
the form of Druidism. 

* Comment. B. vi. e. ziii. 

t Hieron vel Sacrum Promon. (Carnsore Point) See Ptol. Geog. 

X Ast hinc duobus in sacramy sic insulam 

Dixere pri^ci, solibus cursus rati est : 

Haec inter undas multum cespitem jacit]» 

Eamque latd gens Hibemorum «olir. 

Dree Maritimsa. 

This alludes to a period so far back as the most flourishing epoch of 

Carthage, when Himilco, following the course of the Phoenician voyagers 

along the coast of Spain, extended his explorations to the Scilly isles^ and is 

placed by some writers at 1000 years before the Christian era. " Of all 

these known and acknowledged features of the antient Celti£ worship, of 

that superstition which spread wherever the first races of men dispersed 


The root of the word Druid is to be found with little 
variation in the Hibemo-Celtic language of the present 
day, Drdoj signifying a Druid, magician or wise man, and 
Draoideacht or Draoide-achta, magic or the Druidical form 
of worship ;* the golden ornaments in the shape of a half 
moon, which have been frequently found in the Irish bogs, 
are supposed to have been connected with these supersti- 
tions, of which lunar worship formed a part,f and add to 
the numerous testimonies in proof of its great antiquity. 

themselves, there remain, to this day, undoubted traces and testimonies, 
not only in the traditions and records of Ireland, but in those speaking 
monuments of antiquity which are still scattered over her hills and 
plains." Moore, I. p. 19. I cannot, however, concur in the opinion of those 
antiquaries who consider that any induction relative to the Druidical 
form of worship, can be drawn from the so called LeachtSf Cromleaehs, or 
Pillar Stones, which are to be met with in so many parts of Ireland. 
Similar monuments have been found in Scandinavia and Germany, where' it 
is not pretended that Druidism obtained, and I have had opportunities of 
personally examining several rude stone structures both in Sweden and 
Norway, which bear a marked resemblance to those found in Ireland and 
parts of Britain. The Opfer Stein of Germany and Offer Sten of Scaor 
dinavia is the Cromlech of the British isles, and the Bauta Sten the upright 
or pillar stone, the former answering the double purpose of altar and 
grave, and the latter being commemorative or monumental. Such remliins 
are to be found in all parts of Europe and Asia, and are probably coeval 
with the first races of mankind. The first act of Noah after leaving the 
ark, was ** to build an altar and offer burnt offerings to the Lord/' (Gen. 
viii. 20.), and Jacob sets up a pillar ^ and a heap of stones in testimoBy of 
the covenant between him and Laban. Gen. xxxi. 44, seq. 

• See O'Brien in voce Drdoj. The original Irish word for Druid, according 
to To! and, is Drui, having the nominative plural Druidhe, which became 
afterwards corrupted into Vraoithe. See Toland's Hist, of Druidism, p. 66. 
The following comparison of Scripture passages will shew the application of 
the term in Hiberno-Celtic : — ** Anois Draoithe na H^gipte, dor innedur- 
sanfosaran modhgceadna le mandroigheacKtuibh" Exod. vii. 11. [See two 
first books of Pentateuch from original Irish MSS. by T. Connellan, Lond. 
1820.]—** And the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with 
their enchantments.^' — English version. " Feuch Tangadar Draoithe o naird 
shoir go Hierusalem." Matt. ii. 1. — [Irish Bible by William Bhedel, Dub. 
1827.] — " Behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem."—: 
English version. t Moore, p. 22. 


But the high state of perfection, if it may be so called, 
in which the Druidicai form of worship existed in Ireland, 
and the superior acquirements of her Pagan priesthood to 
those of the British, is best evinced by the vestiges of the 
Ogham or occult character in which their mysteries were 
recorded, and which presents a marked resemblance to the 
secret mode of writing, known to have been used for similar 
purposes by the hierarchies of the East-* 

The following is the Ogham alphabet, as given by Sir 
James Ware in the second volume of his Antiquities of 
Ireland :--+ 



llUlllinil l lXO'd- r *L ^ 

• Moore, p. 68.— -"The word Ogmius,*' says Tolland, 'Ms pure Celtic." 
.... the word Ogum, Ogam, or Ogma, is one of the most authentic words 

of the Irish language From signifying the 0^re^ oft/Tri^tn^, it came 

to signiiy secret vfriting. . . . There are several MS. treatises extant, de- 
scrifiing and teaching the various methods." [Hist, of Druids, pp. 83, 84.] 
Sir James Ware says : — *' I have, in my custody, an antient parchment book 
filled with such characters." [Vol. II. p. 19.] It is doubtless to this secret 
writing that Tacitus refers, when he says of the Germans : " Literarum 
secreta viripariter ac feminse ignorant," [De. Mor. Ger. c. 19.] thus agree- 
ing with Csesars statement that they had neither Druids nor sacrifices : — 
^* Nam neque Druides habent qui rebus divinis prsesint, neque sacrificiis 
fitudent."— De Bell. Gall. Lib. VI. c. xxi. 

t Several inscriptions upon stone^ written in this occult character, — than 
which nothing more simple and primitive can be well imagined, — have been 
discovered in the Province of Munster, by the Rev. Matthew Horgan, 
B. C. Rector of Blarney, in the County of Cork, assisted by the zealous 
Irish antiquaries Abraham Abell and John Windele of that city. Great 
incredulity was for some time expressed on the subject of the Ogham in- 

Q 2 


It may therefore be presumed without much stretch of 
credulity that the same communication with the Phopnician 
settlers on the coast of Spain which transmitted these 
eastern superstitions to the Irish shore, may have also 
brought with it some knowledge of navigation, and the 
construction of ships ; and therefore, that we are not driven 
to the hide-covered Currach for a means of transporting 
the Celtic settlers to the American coast. 

Or if the theory of those be adopted, who would bring 
the first colonists of Ireland from Belgic, or Celtic Gaul, 
the description of that people by Caesar will furnish equal 
evidence of maritime knowledge at a period sufficiently 
early to transport an expedition to America in the first 
centuries of the Christian era. The Veneti, inhabiting 
that district of Armoric Gaul, now known by the name 
of Vannes, are stated to have had vessels of considerable 
bulk and power, and admirably adapted as well for coasting 
voyages, as a stormy sea. The hull was of oak, the beams 
a foot in breadth, and fastened with iron, the bottom flat, 
the sails of leather, and what to nautical men may, perhaps, 
appear somewhat wonderful in those early days, the an- 
chors were secured by means of chain cables,* 

scriptions, many persons maintaining that tbey were natural furrows in the 
stone, however the question has been completely set at rest by the testi- 
mony of two unquestionable witnesses^ Dr. Brown and the Rev. Mr. Young, 
in the 8th Vol. of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. See 
Moore's Hist. Ireland, Vol. I. p. 59, note, where Dr. Brown, at first a sceptic 
on thfi subject, is shewn to hav€ acknowledged his error. 

* *' Namque ipsorum naves ad hunc modum factee, armateeque erant : 
CarinsB aliquanto planiores quam nostrarum navium, quo facilius vada, ac 
decessam aestus excipere possent : prorsB admodum erectse, atque item 
puppes ad ma&:nitudinem fluctuum, tempestatumque accommodatee : naves 
totae factse ex robore, ad quamvis vim et contumeliam perferendam: 
transtra pedalibus in latitudinem trabibus confixa clavis ferreis digiti 
pollicis crassitudine : ancbortJBf pro funibus /errm catenis revinctse : pelles 
pro veils, alutseque tenuitur ^onfectae, sive propter lini inopiam, atque ejus 
ususinscientiam, sive, eo quod est magis verisimile, quod tantas tempestates 
oceani, tantosque impetus ventoram sustineri, ac tanta onera navium regi 


Looking therefore, either to the Phoenician, Carthagineian, 
Iberian, Belgic, Gallic, or Scythic intercourse of an early 
period, — to the more continuous Scandinavian occupation of 
later years, — or to the primitive mode of transport of the 
simple skiff, it is evident that ample nautical means were 
not wanting in Ireland to transfer any part of her population 
to the western shores of America long before the period 
when Great Ireland became known to the Northmen. 

The absence of any notice of such a migration in Irish 
Annals,— if such be the case, — is no argument against the 
probability of its existence. The most brilliant period of 
Irish History remains unsupported by Irish manuscripts. 
Of that enlightened age when pupils from all parts of Eu- 
rope sought learning from Irish seminaries and Irish eccle- 
siastics, —when Columbkill dispensed the light of Christianity 
to the Picts, Columbanus to the French, Gallus to the 
Swiss, and the brothers Ultan and Foilan to the Belgians, 
— when Virgilius, the Apostle of Carinthia, astounded the 
German bishops mth his superior knowledge of cosmo- 
graphy and science* — not one authentic written record 
now remains.t 

Invasion from without, and internal dissension from 
within, have swept away all written testimonies of a time, 
when the intellectual and religious eminence of Ireland 

veils, non satis commode arbitrabantur.**— CeBsar de Bell. Gall. Lib. III. 
c. xiii. The Irish technical expression of, *^ an cabla do cheangal dfaine 
an ancoire," — " to bend the cable to the anchor's ring,"— is also presump- 
tive evidence of a respectable description of craft. 

* Virgilius or Feargal (J?Var, vir) was accused of heresy before Pope Boni- 
face, in the 8th century, for maintaining the sphericity of the earth, and the 
existence of Antipodes, contrary to the opinion of the times, which gave 
the globe a plane surface, and united the heavens to the earth beyond 
India. See VTare's Writers of Ireland, B. I. p. 50. 

t This point is ably handled by Mr. Moore, who shews that the argu- 
ments against antient Irish history, founded upon the non-existence of any 
authentic MSS. prior to the 9th century (Psalter of Cashel,) applies with 
much greater force to the comparatively modern periods above mentioned,. 
tlie records of which are never questioned. Hist. Jr. Vol I. p. 308. 


attracted the attention and admiration of neighbouring 
nations, and obtained for her the just distinctions of " Sacred 
Island" and *' School of the West'* : it cannot therefore, be a 
matter of surprise that the records of earlier history should 
have been lost amid the ravages of such general devastation,* 
But further examination of Icelandic Annals may pos- 
sibly throw more light upon this interesting question, and 
tend to unravel the mystery in which the original in- 
habitants of America are involved. Lord Kingsborough's 
splendid publicationf in 1829 first brought to the notice of 
the British public the striking similitude between Mexican 
and Egyptian monuments ; the ruins of Palenque, Guate- 
mala and Yucatan, the former rivalling the pyramids of 
Egypt or the ruins of Palmyra, J were only known to a few 

* O'Halloran charges the £nglish Government with a wholesale destnic- 
tion of Irish MSS. previous to the reign of James I. : — 

*' What the false piety and mistaken zeal of the early Christians left un- 
finished, the Danes continued, and the Saxon and Norman invaders com- 
pleted ... In Ireland, until the accession of James I, it was a part of state 
policy to destroy or carry off all the manuscripts that could be discovered. 
*• What the president Carew," says the author of the Analect (p. 666) " did 
in one province (Munster), Henry Sidney and his predecessors did all. over 
the kingdom, being charged to collect all the manuscripts they could, that 
they might effectually destroy every vestige of antiquity and letters 
throughout the kingdom I The learned Archdeacon Lynch, with many 
others, give too many melancholy instances of the kind." Hist. Ireland, 
v. I. p. 94. " Many of these precious remains," says Moore, " were, as the 
author of Cambrensis Eversus tells us, actually torn up by boys for covers of 
books, and by tailors for measures. It was till the time of James I., says 
Mr, Webb, an object of government to discover and destroy every literary 
remain of the Irish, in order the more fully to eradicate from their minds 
every trace of their antient independence." Moore*s Hist, of Ireland, V. I. 
p. 309, note. 

t *' Mexican Aqtiquities," a work upon which this lamented nobleman 
expended (at least) £30,000. and the best years of bis life, but the circulation 
of which, from the small number of copies printed, and the inaccessible price 
(£150.) to the majority of the reading public, was necessarily very limited. 

^ The following short sketch of these remains, abridged from the costly 
volume of M. Barad^re de St. Priest, appeared in the N. American Review 
for last October, and may, perhaps, be acceptable to the antiquarian 
reader : — 


hunters until the end of the 18th century, and modern 
travellers are still engaged in bringing the hidden wonders 
of this and other regions of the vast American continent 
to the knowledge of the literary world.* 

*' Upon an eminence, towards the middle of the site of the city, rises a 
mass of buildings of a pyramidal form, with a base presenting a parallelo- 
gram, consisting of three different structures, receding in succession, and 
risiug upon each other. This base has a circuit of 1080 feet and an eleva- 


tlon of 60 feet. It is built of stone, laid in a mortar of lime and sand. In 
the middle of the Aront, which faces the east, there is a large stone stair- 
case, which conducts to the principal entrance of the temple. This edifice 
is 240 feet long by 140 feet wide, and 36 feet high, which, added to the 
height of the base, gives a total elevation of 96 feet. The walls are 4 feet 
thick, and constructed of stones of large dimensions. The doorways are 
unequal in their size ; nothing indicates that they were ever closed, and the 
same observation applies to all the other buildings. The windows are of 
various forms, and generally very small. The arches are 20 feet high, and 
form a truncated angle at the top, terminated by large stones, placed trans- 
versely. The roofs are of flag stones, well joined and very thick. The 
whole edifice is covered, externally and internally, with a stucco containing 
oxyde of iron ; it is crowned by a large frieze, set in two double cornices, 
of a square form. Between the doors, and upon all the pillars, forming a 
corridor around the edifice, are encrusted 80 ba$ reliefs in stucco, repre- 
senting personages 7 feet high ; and hieroglyphics, whose careful execution 
announces that the plastic art had made g^at progress among the builders 
of these works. Their exterior view offers a magnificence to which the 
interior corresponds ; immense halls, ornamented with bas reliefs in granite, 
in which the figures are 12 feet high, sculptured hieroglyphics, courts, sub- 
terraneous passages, ornamented also with sculpture, a round tower, with 
four stages, whose staircase is supported by a vault, — such is a sketch of 
the principal characteristics, which this temple offers. • . Other structures of 
the same character are found upon the same plateau : the whole number of 
ruins hitherto discovered, is eighteen .... The flat roofs of the palace were 
overgrown with enormous trees ; Mr. Wnldeck cut down one which measured 
9 feet 3 inches in diameter. By counting the concentric layers, which 
botanists suppose mark the annual growth of trees, he found they were 
1609, and hence deduces the length of the period that has elapsed since 
the edifice was abandoned to the domain of the forest." 

♦ Dr. Lund has lately communicated to the Society of Northern Anti- 
quaries, the remarkable discovery made by him in the interior of Brazil, of 
human bones in connection with those of extinct races of animals. Both 
were in a complete fossil state ', the formation of the human skull is stated to 
be extraordinary, the forehead forming a considerable angle with the fac^. 


The argument founded upon the absence of Irish record* 
might as reasonably be applied to these later publications of 
the north ; and why, may it as well be asked, was the discovery 
of America by the Northmen in the 10th century, notsatis^ 
factorily established until the nineteenth ? — The name of 
Vinland was, doubtless, known to Torfaeus; and Worm- 
skiold, Malte Brun and others, following the erroneous 
calculation which he had made of its locality, fixed it in 
a latitude with which the physical features of the country 
did not correspond :* hence the whole statement in the 
Sagas was long looked upon as fictitious; but the more 
accurate recent investigations of Danish archaeologists have 
set the question at rest, and the discovery of America 
BY THE Northmen has assumed its proper position in the 
history of the tenth century. 

The existence of a Celtic or Irish settlement upon the 
south eastern shores of North America, does not preclude 
the co-existence of other races upon the western and 
northern shores. A colony from western Ireland may have 
been planted on the east, while tribes from eastern Asia 
had settled on the west ; and both have driven before them 
the less civilized, or more feeble Scythic wanderers, who 
may have entered at the north: all emanating, — but by 
distinct and separate channels, — from the one great centre, 
which peopled the wide spread sphere, and thus multiplying, 
in every region and every clime, the living evidences of 
those sacred records which offer peace and immortality to 

and thus differing from the skulls of all known races of men, but at the same 
time presenting a similitude to the human figures on Mexican monuments : 
a hemispherical stone, with a smooth surface, which had apparently been 
used for rubbing, was found in connection with these bones. Berlingske 
Tideude, Kiobenhavn, Feb. 12, 1841. 

* TorfflBUS, in consequence of an errotieoas interpi'etation of the passage, 
pp. 64, 65, in the Saga of Erik the Red, relating to the length of the day, 
which he took to be eight hours instead of nine, fixed the latitude of Vfn- 
kand aft'' 49^, being that of Newfoundland. 














































»<8 S 





h* . a 

p I & 

5^ ' § 



«Q pa 

a ^ S 

« o P 

W K ^ 




pq (aq GD oq ^ fe fc ^ 


K S >• ^ ^ •^ "^ 



1. Halga signifies hahgaaeny half gone, and is used here with 
teference to the position of the sun : but is otherwise employed 
with reference to the time and hour. 

2. See 18 Here the morning is understood to commence. 

3. Midmoming, also called riamdl, or rising time, now ob- 

4. Still used by the peasantry of Iceland to signify the par- 
ticular time of the day, See Olafsen, I. p. 40 ; Troil, p. 90 ; 
Henderson, I. 187.* 

5. Forenoon meal time. 

6. In most parts of Iceland the peasantry still place this day- 
mark in the same position. See Olafsen, Troil, and Henderson, 
as above. 

7. Highest day. This very antient term is still used by the 
peasantry of the West of Iceland instead of hddegij which is 
now, incorrectly, considered to refer to 12 o'clock. See Biorn 
Haldorson s Atli, p. 47. 

8. Now called midmunda, Undarn occurs in old northern 
MSS. both to signify afternoon, as also a meal or convivial party 
held at that time: See Bafn*s Krakumal or Lodbrokarkvida, 
pp. 2, 29, 96-97. The Moeso-Gothie word undaum is used in a 
similar sense, as also the Alemannic (old High German) untom, 
and Anglo-Saxon undem : also in the old English of Chaucer, 
although the word was occasionally used in Anglo-Saxon for a 
particular part of the forenoon. See infra 9, and 24. 

• '* About 8 o'clock/* he never mentions half hours. Confer ante, p. 64, 
65, and note. Stadr signifies bounds or limits, hence " dagmalastad/' the 
beginning of dagmal, and " eyktarstad *' the end of eykt. See ibid, and 


9. This stiind formed the latter half of the Eikt undam, (Non 
edr Eykt) or 3 o'clock p. m., and it is remarkahle that the Anglo- 
Saxons called this time heah undem (See 8). On the other hand, 
the Roman Catholic clergy in England, called it non, from the 
Mass Nona of the horse canonicse, which took place at the same 
time of the day, whence the old Saxon non, old high German 
ntwn^ and Scandinavian n6n. See 25. 

10 This word signifies the Eykt's place, termination, or close. 
See ante pp. 64, 65 and note. It was also called apian or 
aptansm&ly as the evening was here considered to commence. 
See infra 26, 27. 

1 1 . The middle of the evening, now called in Iceland midaptan. 
See infra 27. 

1 2 . StiU similarly placed in most parts of Iceland. See Olafsen, 
Troil, and Henderson, as above. 

13. Evening meal time« 

14. Bed time. 

15. Midnight. 

16. This word corresponds to the Moeso GU^thic uthvo, the 
Alemannic twhta, ouht, ockt, uht, ucktenstond, the Belgic and 
Frisiac ucktf and the Anglo-Saxon uht, uhtentid. See Rafn'fr 
Krdknmal or Lodbr6karkvida, pp. 12, 124, and infra 32, 33. 

17. The middle of the otta, called also kana-otta, or the cock 
otta, or kana-galan^ cock crovidng. See infra 33. 

18. Sunrise-time, still called aabitsmaal, or sammer refresh- 
ment time, in Iceland and the Farce islands. 

19. Midmoming, x^ed in modem Danish, nddmorgen. Swed. 

20. The fore-breakfast, corresponding to the Frisian vordard. 
This stund is still called in particular districts of Norway yro- 
kostbeel, (see infra 21.) corresponding expressions to the antient 
dagmal are also found in the dialects of the peasantry of Den- 
mark and Sweden in the present day. 

21. Called also daguur. The antient dagurdvy dagverdr has 
undergone great alterations in the later dialects, particularly in 
Norway ; otherwise in Swedish it is still dagvard^ in Danish 


davrsj davevy dover^ dauer^ and in Frisiac daagerd, dauerd, 
daaerdy dard^ &c. See supra 5. 

22. To this there are several corresponding terms in old Nor- 
thern languages, see supra 6^ 7, and infra 23. In certain dis- 
tricts of Norway, this portion of time was also called halfgaaet 
til middag, or half gone to noon. 

23. Otherwise hceadag, corresponding to the old Northern 
term. See 22. 

24. Called also ondol, ondolsmaal. Traces of the antient un- 
dam (ondam) particularly as applied to noon or afternoon-meal- 
time, midday sleep, &c. are to he found in the peasant dialects 
of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Great 

25. See supra 9. This corresponds with the British shep- 
herd's high noon as applied to 3 o'clock p. m. See Brand's 
Pop. Antiq. by Sir H. Ellis, I. p. 457-460. The Bavarian won, 
and Westphalian none^ &c. are still in use ; on the other hand, 
the English noon, and the Dutch noen now signify 12 o'clock. 
We have otherwise good ground? for believing that down to the 
year 1 700, the peasantry of Denmark called this stund ogt. See 
infra 26. It would appear that several expressions amongst the 
Germans having reference to holy eves» and which are still in 
use amongst the peasantry, are related to the term eyht or mkt 
of the Scandinavians, such as aeckt in Suabia, uckt in Dit- 
marsh, &c. 

26. Also '6gterdag8 beely ogtebeeL These and several other 
wordS) which are of great importance in fixing the time of the 
day by which the latitude of Vinland has been determined (See 
ante pp. 64, 65, note), are to be found collected from the dialects 
of the Danish and Norwegian peasantry in the large Danish 
Dictionary, 4 Vol. sec. 3, p. 17, let. 0. 

27. The Anglo-Saxons called this time of the day o/er-non, as 
the Norwegians, for similar etymological reasons, call it etterbkt. 
To these are several corresponding terms in Denmark and 

28. Amongst the Scandinavians the later part of the evening 


was considered to commence here, and was called kveldy kv'dld, 
A. S. cvyld: this term is still used in the modem dialects. 

29. See supra 13. 

30. Denotes the taking off, expiration, or end of the day. 

3 1 . Literally the highest night. In some British authors we 
find the expression *' noon of the night." 

32. Still used in the modem Danish and Swedish dialects. 

33. See supra 17. 

N.B. — An obliging communication from Professor Rafri, when 
this sheet was in the press, has led to a slight change in the 
projection of the Dial, as given by Professor Finn Magnusen, 
and which, although involving no point of importance, has been 
adopted for the sake of simplifying the illustration. Confer. 
Finn Magnusen '' on the Antient Scandinavians' division of the 
times of the Day." Mem. de la Soc. des Antiq. du Nord. 
Copenh. 1838. 

























r S3 

























S P- 



■ bo- 







o "S^ 



























- C 

6^ < 



® S 2 ^ §** 



CD •■* 

« — 

Brought down to the Present Time, 

Ari M arson — V — ^Thorgerd AlPs daugbteF 

f ' 


• Ari 

of Reykholum 

r -J 

Hallbera-vThorgeir HallasoR 

Ingibjbrg-vStaiia Thordarson 
H t 1183 
Steinann-v^on Brandson 
I of Reykholum 








Andre^v-Thorbjorg Olaf's daughter 

Gudmund — v — ^Jard ^rud, Thorleif *8 daughter 

ofFelli J— ' qfReykhdlum 

Thorleif of-v-Ingibjorg, Jon's daughter 
Skogi 1 1536 I of Skdimamesmula 

Jon of Gufudal-^Sigrid, Gudmund*8 daughter 

OfficicdU, 16fi4 

Thorlief ofv-Hallbjbrg Bjom's daughter 
Skalmames- I 
mtila I 

Elna^\rGudrun, ThorIak*8 daughter 


Thorolf-v-Thorkatla, Finn's daughter 
t 1649 ofFlatey 

! ; — 

Ingibjbrg-v-^icholas Gudmundson 
tl706 I Priest 1 1708 

Gudrun-^rSigurd Sigurdson, Governor 


qf Bardcutrand 

Ragnhild, 1726— s^ — Olaf Gunlaugson 
tl768 I of Svefneyjum 

I '■ — "■ r — ' ' ■" 7-1 

Eggart Olafson Magnus OIafson--*>-^v^ Ragiiheidir Jon Olafsotf 

Poet, Physcn. S^ Antiquary Last Lagman of Iceland 
b. 1726. d. 1768. b. 1730. d. 1800. 

Finn's daughter or 

of. Tab. IX. John Olafeon 

of Hypnoness^ 
Finn MagnussoN) Philologist and 

Vice-President, R,S. N. A. Antiquary, 

6. 1781. 5. 1731, d. 1811. 


To the Present Time. 


Thorfinn Karlsefne -v- QuDRiD, Thorbjarnar's daughter 

I -^ 

Snorri Thorfinnsson ....... .^v-Ingveld, Ulfbedin's daughter 



-Einar Ketillsson 


Thorstein Ranglatr 


-Alfheid, Thorleifs daughter 

Thorlak — y — Gudlaug, Eyjulfs daughter 



Priest and 
Logman t 1273 

■Halldoray Thorvald's daughter, 

Sister of Count GUssur^ first Viceroy of 


Valgerd — y — Narfi Snorrason 
I of KoWeinstodum 
r— - — I t 1284 
Thorlak — ^/ — Helga, Nicholas' daughter 
Jjogtnan, 1290 t 1303 j 

Ketill of Kolbeinstodum, 
Viceroy, 1214 1 1342 

Vigftis of Kolbeinstodum, 

Narfi of Eolbeinstodum 


of KoWeinstodum 


Oooemor qf Rangardal 


-Hallbera, Solmundar's daughter 
Gudrid, Thorvard's daughter 




t 1623 

•Gtldr6n, PaPs daughter 



-Ssemund Erikson 


Gudrun — v — -Ami Gialason 
Scemund's of Lidarend 
daughter \ 

See Tab, IX, 





Gisli, Governor 

GudmuDd 1 1605 




I Sister of celebr. Torfaeus 


Gudrid — V — Hans Willnmsen Londeman, 

I Dane, Govr. Ames 

Edward Londeman of Rosenkrone* 
Assessor, ChirfCourt, Denm, j- Norway, h, 1680. d, 1749. 

ChristilaB o^ Hdff- 


-Maria Margareta Londeman, 

b, 1714. d, 1762. 

Hans Bdwurd Henry of Hoff, 
ft. 1738. d. 1779. 

CMuMUm Henry of Hoff-Rosenkrone, 
•^^JlMmda/, in Norway, b, 1768. 

Marcus Gerhard, 
Count of Rosenkrone, 
Danish Ambassador 
in Saxony, Sfc, 
b. 1738. d. 1811. 





•a — 



C — 
















o ^ 

O n 














o> $e: . 


C* 00 ^ 

•^S g . 


— 2?- 



*^ i 


H S 

g « 









I— • 


7!— S- 
I ^ 




11 I 
























I— » 


t— t 




g o 








so so 







« ^ — 23-. 





(ST e*> 






I =: 





f i I 




































t— t 








I— » 





» so 








> ® 

tg 2? 




- o ■ 









h^^ — ^ 


CD — 
























Althing, xviii. 
Alderton Point, 73. 
Albania, 183, 210. 
America, isthmus of, 213. 
AncflO'Saxons, 133. 



Barrow's Straits, 129. 
Bede the Venerable, 173. 
Booths, Leif 8, 63. 
Brage, viii. 

Breidavik, see Asbrandson. 
Bremen, Adam of, 68. 
Buzzard's Bay, 63. 

Cabot, 160. 
Canoes, 71. 
Ceesar, 212, 223. 
Cassiterides, 222. 
Celtic, 214. 
Columbus, 64. 
Connecticut, 63. 
Cowl, 89. 
Currachs, 220. 

Danes, 180. 
Dagr and Deegr, 91. 
Dicuil, 176. 
DiGHTON Rock, 120. 
Drinking Hall, xxiii. 
Druids, 223. 
D6neyjar, 149. 

£dda, X. 

Egede, Hans, 169.— Paul, 164. 
England, 164. 

Erik the Red, Saga of, 47. 
Erikson, Leif, 69.— Thorvald, 

70. — Thorstbin, 74. 
Eystribygd, 137, 166. 


Flatobogen, xxxvii. 45. 
Frbtdis, 99, 106. 

Furdustrands. 89. 
Fyrisvold, 191. 


Gardar, 48, 126. 
Garments, coloured, 192. 
Gellerson Thorkell, 181. 
GoDi, Snorri, 186. 
Graah, 138,146, 162. 
Greipar, 126. 
Greenland, 49, 146. 
Grimolfson, Bjarni, 89, 103. 
gudlaugson, gudleip, 203. 
Gudrid, 74, 86, 106, 111. 
Gunnbjarnaskar, 48. 


Heimskringla, viii. 79. 
Helluland, 60, 88, 113, 116. 
Herjulfson, Bjarni, 50. 
Herredsthing, iii. 
Hestething, xvii. 
Hoftollr, vi. 
Holmgang, vi. 
Holibut, 96. 
H«pe, 63, 66, 94. 
Hiisasnotrutr^, 1 10, 113. 


IgaUko, 142. 

Igikeit, 144. 

Ireland, Great, 108, 179, 204, 

Ireland, intercourse of, with Ice- 
land, 131, 133.— Primitive inha- 
bitants of, 219.— Mines of, 174, 
222.— Reputation of, in the 8th 
century, 134, 

Irish, 174, 176. -Ships of, 21 7. 

Jomsvikings, 191. 


Karlsepnb, Thorpinn, Saga of, 

82.— Posterity of, 106. 
Kakortok, 139. 
Kingikt6r8oak, 124. 
Kjalarness, 74, 94. 
Krossaness, 73. 
KrokB^ardarhcidi, 126. 







Landn4mab6ky zi. 

Lancaster's Sound, 129. 

Lauda Rolf, 150. 

Long 1 aland y 53. 

Magnusson, A mas, xxiv. xliii. 

Magnusen, Finn, 47, 65, 122, 132, 

Maple, bird's eye, 110. 
Mabson, Ari, 179, 183. 
Markland, 61, 88, 113, 188. 
Merchants, Icelandic, 130. 
Muller, Bishop, ii. 184, 200. 

Nadodd, 48. 
Nawtuckbt, 62. 
Newfoundland, 53, 60, 150. 
Not A Scotia, 53, 61. 


Ogham alphabet, 227. 
Olaf, king of Norway, 78, 79. 


Palnatoki, 191 . 

Parry, Sir W. E. 129, 130. 

Papas, Irish, 174, 175, 176. 

Pocasset River, 63. 

Point Alderton, 73. 

Polar Seas, 136. 

Pope Nicholas V. 152. 

Porridge, 97. 

Rafn,theLimbrick merchant, 

Rhode Island, 53. — Historical So- 
ciety, 120. 

Rimb^la, 101,131. 

Rune, ix. 

Runic inscription, 125, 143. 

Runolfson, Bishop Thorlak, 105, 112* 

Sagas, viii. x. xix. 

Satirical songs, xvi, 

Scott, Sir Walter, 78, 184, 196. 

Scoti, Irish, 218. 

Ships, Irish, 217. 

Sigurdson, Jarl, 181. 

Skrselings, 72, 96. 

Skalds, X. xii. 

Snorri Earlsbfneson, 92, 105. 

Speculum Regale, 132. 

Stikklestad, x. 

Sturleson, Snorri, xxxv. 

Sturlungers, xxxix. 


Tacitus, testimony of, 221. 
Thor,92, 189. 
Thorstein Erikson, 74. 
Thorstein the black, 75. 
Thorbrandson, Snorri, 84. 
Thorvaldson, Bertel, 93. 
Thorvard, 87. 
ThuridofFroda, 186. 
Turner, Sharon, 135, 224. 
Tyrker, 67. 

Uniped, 101. 



Vestribygd, 151. 

Vines, 69, 90. 

ViNLAND, 68, 113, 115, 188. 


Walchendorf, 157. 
Wellmgton Channel, 129. 
Westmen, 174, 187, 
White Man's Land, 103,179, 208, 


Yule, feast of, xxv. 85. 





8 J 








i. r^A.